Match Recap –Louisville City vs Hartford Athletic – 10/07/2023
Both the performance and the timing of the result against New Mexico was a disaster. It was as poor of a match as we have seen this season during an opportunity to leapfrog Memphis in the standings. With time running out in the regular season, Louisville City needs results and positive performances to carry into the postseason whether that be at home or on the road. First up in the final home stand; Hartford Athletic. It was a dismal draw last time but there was hope playing at home would make a difference.
58' - Thellufsen
By The Numbers
I’m going to begin by sharing some (rather depressing) stats. At 0.55 points per game (Pts/G) (0.53 Pts/G while on the road), Hartford is the worst team in the league. As easy as it will get in 2023. The Las Vegas Lights narrowly trump them with 0.58 Pts/G and Loudoun is the next lowest at 0.76 Pts/G. Although HFD has averaged a surprisingly high 1.29 goals for per game (GF/G) on the road, they have allowed 2.35 goals against (GA/G) as the away team. For context, the next worst GA/G on the road is 1.88 GA/G (LDN). That is a significant gap. Louisville City only managed to find the net once on them in two meetings this season. That stat stings even more knowing the importance of securing all three points in this most recent encounter as they try to salvage a first-round playoff match at home. I’ve yet to even mention that in this latest match, LOU generated an expected goal (xG) value of 2.41 to the Athletic’s 0.67. With 24 total shots taken, that is just a touch over 0.100 xG per shot. I bring this up as our season average is 0.101, which is the 5th lowest in the league. Morados controlled (55% possession and 51% of all accurate passes in HFD’s half), Morados attacked (24 shots with 8 on target), but Morados could not win.
“You walk away really, really disappointed,” Coach Danny Cruz said of the result against Hartford. “I certainly felt that the group left everything on the field. I thought we created a ton of chances.” I do not disagree. Unlike the New Mexico match, the team appeared to be more energized and motivated. Effort was not an issue. Chances were there too. 24 shots (8 on target) and 2.41 xGF to be exact. It’s the quality that was missing in this match and frankly for much of the 2023 campaign. This team is averaging 11.46 shots per goal (ShtF/GF). 22nd out of 24 in the league. You can’t expect to lift a trophy when your shot quality is among the worst in the league. Not to mention that we are now relying on Memphis to lose their last match (against NM) along with securing a win over the Rowdies to play at home in round one of the playoffs. For as good as this team has been at times (remember beating SA?) their continued stumbles have put themselves in a position to make a post-season run even more challenging than it already would have been. History will view this team as “mid-table” (bad compared to LouCity’s historical standards) barring a deep playoff run (which doesn’t feel likely).
With that said, it is not all doom and gloom. Louisville City clinched a spot in the playoff a few weeks back and really, that is the only thing a team needs to have a shot at a trophy. “There’s some positives to take away from it building toward next week and the playoffs.” Another statement Coach Cruz made after the match I agreed with. It was a much-improved performance over the previous match in terms of fight and attack. Yes, turning shots into goals is an issue, but it’s a step in the right direction. Defensively, it was largely a decent night. HFD only had three on target shots and their xG was only 0.67. The one getting in the net certainly puts a cloud over things, but again, a step in the right direction. The biggest positives were with individual play. Rasmus Thellufsen finally found his first goal in purple. Niall McCabe got critical minutes after missing time for personal reasons and didn’t appear to have missed a beat. Tyler Gibson quietly had a good outing (per usual). And Brian Ownby continued to do Brian Ownby things. The preparations heading into the final regular season match are as critical as they have been this year. Positive momentum in the final match against Tampa is almost as valuable as the points themselves. Put on a performance to build from that can be used to scrape out playoff road wins.
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