Following a gritty road win against El Paso Locomotive, Louisville City returned home for an Eastern Conference matchup against the Charleston Battery. Their previous 2022 meeting ended as a 1-1 draw in South Carolina. It was a LouCity squad coming on the heels of the wild trip to San Diego and the Open Cup PK win over John Hackworth’s St Louis City SC 2. The boys were worn out and there was quite a bit of roster rotation yet they still managed to walk out with a point. This time around, however, the Battery was facing a nearly full-powered LouCity squad looking to get all the points they can to keep the distance on the table from Tampa Bay.
Amadou Dia and Wilson Harris’ return to the starting eleven were the only changes made from the El Paso match. Given the players available, a predictable starting lineup (not that it’s a bad thing!). Corben Bone, absent from the road trip, made his return to the bench along with Carlos Moguel. Cameron Lancaster remains MIA along with Josh Wydner, who isn’t expected to be out for much longer.
Not much time was needed for Louisville City to gain control of the match. Only 11’ in, Jorge Gonzalez took to the air and headed the ball off a corner kick, but it was slightly off target and went over the crossbar. Jorge again was featured in the action at 23’ when some fantastic ball work helped him to keep possession while under pressure and register a shot at the top of the box that was ultimately blocked away. Despite the LouCity control, it was Charleston who found the first goal only a few minutes later against the run of play. Undiscouraged, Morados fought back and Matiti Mushagalusa hit a phenomenal strike from the corner of the box that hit off the top crossbar at 29’. A minute later, Brian Ownby found the squad’s first goal, tying the game 1-1. In the closing minutes of the half, Jorge served up Matiti for a goal, but it was ruled back on an arguable offside call. The one-all scoreline would hold through the end of the first half.
A theme throughout this season has been Louisville’s bump in performance in the second half. Unfortunately for the Battery, this match was not an exception. At 52’, a leading pass from Amadou Dia set Matiti up for a pivot around a defender, followed by an expertly placed shot past the keeper. LouCity was now up 2-1. Ten minutes later, Charleston’s hopes of a comeback in a match spiraling away from them got much harder when one of their players made contact with the ref in frustration and earned himself a red card and an early shower. Five minutes later, Wilson Harris aggressively pressed on the Battery defender on the ball, striped him of it, and fired off a shot and into the net to make it 3-1. At 73’ Niall McCabe, Wilson, and Tyler Gibson all called it a night with Carlos, Ray Serrano, and Corben Bone taking their place. Matiti and Ownby came off at 84’ for Napo Matsoso and Paolo DelPiccolo. A few minutes later, Ray, looking for a goal of his own, juked out a defender at the top of the box and sent the ball goal bound that forced a diving save from the keeper. At 88’, Manny Perez registered a shot from the corner of the box that was barely kept out. Napo got a rebound shot out of the ensuing scrum, however, it rolled wide of the net. It was the defender Sean Totsch of all people who found the final goal. A cross into the box was rerouted into the net with just one touch. LouCity ended the match with a comfortable 4-1 win.
By The Numbers
The stats for this match were as predictably lopsided as the final score. Not only did City out possess the Battery 59% to 41% but of the visitor’s ~230 accurate passes, over 75% were in their own half. That’s the LouCity high press in action! Speaking of passing, it was another >80% accurate pass performance with the Battery a full 10% less. The shooting numbers are equally skewed in the home team’s favor; 25 total shots to Charleston’s five with 11 of Louisville’s on target and only one for Charleston (which unfortunately went in). A neutral observer or active LouCity hater might argue the impact on the red card, however, the damage was already done at that point. It was truly an accurate reflection of the table gap between the two sides.
Player Of The Match
With all the love that the likes of Kyle Morton and Wilson Harris get, Amadou Dia doesn’t always get the attention that he deserves as a huge offseason signing. Dia was flying in the match. He earned two assists and created three big chances and earned a team-high 8.9 player rating. In fact, in the season, he has the second highest average rating at 7.54 (trailing Brian Ownby by 0.02). LouCity’s outside backs are a big part of the attack and this system doesn’t get the same results with someone of a lesser caliber than Dia.
“I think it was a good response being down a goal,” Coach Danny Cruz said. “We must execute in the final third. I know it sounds a little weird given we scored four goals tonight. I thought in the first half we should have finished our chances because you give the opponent one opportunity and the game changes. I was happy with the response after halftime. I thought there were some good individual performances on the night. Again, three points in front of a packed house: I’m happy with it.” Not much else for him to say! It was a truly dominant performance against an inferior team. It was a match that LouCity should have controlled from start to finish and grabbed all three points, and they did just that. Bad concessions happen so I don’t put too much stock into the one the Battery put into the net. The team was firing on all cylinders and everyone on the pitch was contributing. In front of a season-high crowd with great weather, it was hard to ask for much more for an evening of soccer. Louisville City continues their destructive march through the schedule, picking up points left and right.
With this lesser matchup out of the way, the attention turns to the 08/13 match against the Tampa Bay Rowdies. You can not understate how big of a match this is. In fact, it’s safe to call it the club’s biggest regular season match ever. The Rowdies are only one point behind City on the table and given the results of the previous few encounters between these two sides, Louisville will really be craving a win. If you haven’t already secured your tickets for this one, don’t wait. It’s going to be a wild evening in front of *hopefully* a record crowd!
Be sure to check out my assessment of LouCity's performance the first half of the season (How's It Going Pt. 2) as well as my feature on Josh Wynder!
Want to do a little more reading on LouCity? I suggest the following: