Following a hard-fought draw in Pittsburgh, Louisville City returned home to take on Loudoun United. Loudoun was previously owned by MLS’ DC United but has since gained their independence with a transfer to a new ownership group, allowing them to stay in the USL rather than make the move to MLS Next with the rest of the MLS-owned feeder teams. Historically, a poor performing team (LouCity put four past them in their last meeting in Sept 2022), Loudoun has grown to be a bit more competitive than in years past but still a team that is the significant underdog coming to Lynn Family Stadium.
Veteran talents Cameron Lancaster and Niall McCabe made their returns to the starting eleven in this match. Lancaster has been part of an ongoing position battle at the striker role as Coach Danny Cruz searches for an answer to his team’s scoring issues. McCabe, meanwhile, earned the start after a lengthy spell injured on the sideline. And lets not forget Sean Totsch making his 200th appearance! What a milestone! Congrats, Totsch!
53’ - Lancaster
By The Numbers
This one was uncomfortably close for the home team fans. Louisville squeezed out a 1-0 win, but LDN didn’t feel that far behind. LOU did win the xG battle 1.84 to 0.58, but the eye test felt closer. The visitors did out possess Louisville, a category that the boys in purple usually win. LDN also kept pace with shots 11 to Morados’ 14. Louisville did create three “big chances” to Loudoun’s zero, but unfortunately all three were misses for LOU.
Player Of The Match
Elijah Wynder was a bright spot in an otherwise forgettable game. This season he has often been a unique offensive spark, and this match was no different. In the first half, when Loudoun was arguably controlling the match, he used the press to his advantage and created a scoring opportunity after bullying a defender off the ball. That was a much needed swing in Louisville’s favor during a period where the visitors were firmly in control. Should he continue at this trajectory, he is going to be an important part of the squad, heading late into the season and in the postseason.
“I’m happy with the three points, but I don’t think it was anywhere near the performance that we expect of the group,” said coach Danny Cruz. “I’m proud of the shutout, but ultimately, we have to start the game better, no question about it. I thought we were overrun there for probably the entire first half. We missed a few chances we probably need to finish, but I thought their energy and mentality were a level ahead of ours.” No lies detected there. It was an uncomfortably close match against a team who is likely on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. This was the type of match where Louisville could have gained some confidence heading into a rematch with Pittsburgh but instead everyone is left asking the same questions about this team.
“How we started wasn’t what we talked about all week,” said Niall McCabe. “We talked about starting fast — starting strong on the front foot. And we didn’t do that at all. We gave them too much room to play, and they exploited the space we gave up, really.” While LouCity does own some fault, credit to Loudoun. They looked incredibly prepared and did not let Louisville’s history intimidate them. LouCity, meanwhile, appeared to be on a crash course with disaster early. Props to Coach Cruz for making a tough call to do a double substitution 30 minutes into the match. Making non-injury related changes so early is an uncommon occurrence, but he did what needed to be done to stabilize his side. I regularly sing the praises of Tyler Gibson, but it was not his night. Rasmus Thellufsen in an advanced winger role probably isn’t the best spot for him going forward either.
LouCity did find their goal early in the second half when their play looked MUCH improved. Cameron Lancaster found the score sheet for only the second time (with the first being way back in March against OC). You could see it on his face how much that one meant. A huge confidence boost. Here is to hoping this propels him to success in upcoming matches.
Big picture, LouCity continues to do enough to remain in striking distance from the top of the table. As of this writing, only five points separate them and first place Tampa, but City still does have a match in hand on them and the others above them. The vibes may be off, but this team still very much has a shot at winning the East. For now, we need to take things one match at a time. It will be critical for LouCity to string together a run leading up to the playoffs. With roughly half the season complete, it feels like less than a sure thing. We will see what they can do over the next few to try to shake their struggles creating and converting chances.
Want to do a little more reading on LouCity? I suggest the following: