Match Recap – Louisville City vs Loudoun United – 09/17/2022
Having finally gotten a full proper week of rest and prep following the streak of consecutive matches ending with the draw in Pittsburgh, Louisville City was back at home to take on Loudoun United. Loudoun, DC United’s USL affiliate, hasn’t had the best of seasons and has a record you’d come to expect from a “two” team. However, with the season inching closer to its conclusion, every point matters, and no opponent can be overlooked. For LouCity to keep pace in their race to not only win the East but the whole league, a win was needed.
Josh Wynder and Corben Bone returned to the starting eleven, forming what many could argue is the team’s strongest starting eleven. No cheeky roster tweaks even for the eliminated Loudoun side.
Matiti Mushagalusa set off the smoke less than four minutes into the match. Manny Perez made a run down the side of Loudoun’s box to receive a leading pass from Brian Ownby and instantly hit it back centrally to Matiti, who buried the shot past the keeper for the early goal. Louisville kept the pressure on the opposition. At 20’, a freekick was earned at the edge of Loudoun’s box. Corben Bone tapped the ball to start the play and Wilson Harris expertly placed his low shot just past the wall and into the corner of the net. Only four minutes later, Ownby was taken down in the box and drew a penalty kick. With Cam still out of the equation, it was Sean Totsch who took the kick and scored his ninth of the season. And just like that, Louisville city had a 3-0 lead. City kept control over the match, suffocating Loudoun in their end and continually testing their defense. Matiti took a shot at the box’s edge at 40’ that was blocked but not secured. Harris pounced on the opportunity and got a quick strike to the loose ball, but the keeper made the diving save. An undeterred Loudoun did manage to find one goal of their own before the half. An attacker split the center backs after a deflected Loudoun pass was quickly reclaimed by their attack and the angled shot got by Kyle Morton. 3-1 at the half with Louisville in the lead.
Early in the second half, the press from Jorge Gonzalez resulted with him in possession and provided him with a shooting opportunity at the top of the box. He went for the far post, but the Loudoun goalie kept it out of the net. At 60’, Paolo DelPiccolo and Ray Serrano entered the match for Wilson and Matiti. Immediately following that, Loudoun made a quick blitz into LouCity’s half and scored their second seemingly against the run of play. Despite Louisville’s dominance for large stretches of the match, the score was now 3-2. Thankfully, the boys in purple quickly responded. At 64’, they made a quick break of their own. Manny sent a beautiful cross into the box to Brian Ownby, whose initial one-on-one shot was blocked, but he immediately hit the rebound into the net to extend their lead. Ownby would come out of the match at 77’ for Napo Matsoso and Elijah Wynder and Oscar Jimenez relieved Jorge and Manny at 85’. The match would end on a bit of a sour note, with Ray receiving a red card in extra time for “violent conduct” reacting to harassment from a Loudoun player. But, there were no more goals to be had in this match and LouCity claimed victory 4-2.
By The Numbers
The majority of the stats were very much in Louisville’s favor. They outshot the visitors 20 (11 on target) to four (three on target). City even created a staggering seven big chances! It’s not much of a surprise that they dominated on expected goals (xG) as well, with 3.63 to 0.43. While the possession battle was only 54% to 46% in favor of LouCity, a whopping 74% of Loudoun’s accurate passes were in their own end. Not exactly the most productive time on the ball. With that said, Loudoun United was still able to find two goals of their own. Even with limited opportunities, any opponent can change a game. The “better” team doesn’t always win. Thankfully, in this case, they did.
Player Of The Match
Manny Perez was an outstanding performer in this matchup. He created three big chances and registered one assist however; he was involved in all of his team’s goals. “I like defensive work, but I’m also very attack-minded,” Perez said after the match. “I take pride in one-v-one defending, but also on the attacking side by providing good service.” He has had a number of great showings this season, but this was arguably his most complete performance in a purple kit. On a night with many positives, his showing was one of the best.
I am thrilled with the four goals scored and the fact the team largely controlled the match, but the fact they allowed two goals against was a little concerning. Coach Danny Cruz was proud of his team for overcoming the adversity of having an opponent claw their way back into the match. “To go up three to zero and concede two goals, I’ve seen plenty of teams fold at that moment. But to go get a fourth and then close out the game, I think that’s a positive.” While the team was resilient in Loudoun’s effort to salvage something from a match that slipped away from them very early on, it was a learning opportunity for the team on how quickly an opponent can work their way back into a match. “We were poor in transition tonight on defense. We were poor in transition in attack.” Coach Cruz commented. “But again, you put in four goals, and I think it’s a good thing that I’m frustrated scoring four goals and winning the game.” The many positives will ultimately drown out the opportunities, but I’m sure the staff will make those misses known and work on them as the team looks to perfect their game only a few matches away from the playoffs. A stronger side would have done more to make LouCity pay for allowing them back into the match.
It was a great night for Louisville, even outside of their own match. Detroit City did Morados a solid and handed the Rowdies an L while San Antonio shared points with New Mexico. City is now only one point back from SA (who has a game in hand) and they lead Memphis (who won conveniently) by five points (but they are a game back). These races will go down to the wire and Louisville will need to ensure that they control what they can control and secure as many points as possible in these final few matches. After this weekend’s results, FiveThirtyEight has put LouCity back on top for their odds of making and winning the finals. Despite how these races pan out, it’s been a historic season for LouCity. They are now only three points back from their 2018 record total of 66 points. With a few more to go, it seems likely it’s a record that can be surpassed. But the team wants more than a points record. They are gunning for hardware. With three of the final four at home, make sure you are there to help cheer them on in their pursuit of trophies!
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