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  • Writer's pictureBenton

Match Recap – Louisville City vs Memphis 901 – 06/10/2023


Photo Credit: EM Dash

It was a missed opportunity to earn three points last weekend on the road in Hartford. The boys in purple had to be eager to return to the pitch and play closer to their expectations. Following the Hartford Athletic draw, Louisville City returned home to take on a red-hot Memphis 901. These two faced off once this season already and the points were shared. Oddsmakers gave the edge to LouCity however, it would be no easy feat given 901’s recent form.

Lineup

The combination of the formation and player selection was one of the most interesting in recent memory. Louisville began the match in a 3-5-2 with Cameron Lancaster and Maartin Pouwels up top. The midfield was composed of Rasmus Thellufsen, Tyler Gibson, Dylan Mares, Amadou Dia, and the young academy signing Owen Damm. Damm has seen first-team action once before in 2022, but this was his first start and first appearance at Lynn Family Stadium. The back three was composed of Sean Totsch, Wes Charpie, and Elijah Wynder. You’ve read that correctly. When asked about that particular unique aspect of the lineup, Coach Danny Cruz cited his quality with the ball and his ability to win aerial duels along with the absence of Jordan Scarlett.

Some may be critical of some of these decisions; however, I appreciated the call to mix things up. For various reasons, consistency in the lineup hasn’t exactly been a thing this season and the various permutations of players and shapes has resulted in a mixed bag of results. In taking on a talented Memphis, Coach Cruz threw them a curveball. Guys like Pouwels, Damm, Elijah, and Mares who have only sporadically started were given opportunities to shine. We didn’t end up getting the result we wanted, but it really wasn’t due to the formation and player decisions. We will dive more into the result below, but I did want to share my appreciation for a willingness to try something new and adapt as needed.

Match Highlights

71’ – Harris

By The Numbers

Louisville City generated 2.15 expected goals (xG) to Area Code FC’s 1.13 but came out the loser. It was a bit fortuitous for Memphis to find three goals. Damm’s own goal and the incomplete block of the pass leading to the third goal were rather unlucky for Morados. This was only the fourth match in which the opposition had an xG value of 1.0 or better; SAC – 4.54, CHS – 1.00, MEM – 1.99, MEM – 1.12. All three teams are comfortably in the playoff picture. Offensively, despite only finding one, the team was creating. Four “big chances” were created, which was great to see from a team who has struggled to put themselves in scoring positions. Most of the action was in the second half when LouCity reverted to their 4-3-3. The back three wasn’t bad, but the switch at halftime unlocked MEM’s defense, but unfortunately not enough to find points.

Shots, Assists, Key Passes
Avg Position
https://mastodon.skrimmage.com/@GameFlow/110523543644561311

Player Of The Match

Photo Credit: David Mucker

Amadou Dia has been quietly good this season despite his team’s struggles. In this match, he was the only starter with a player rating above 7.0. He created two chances, made seven passes into the final third, and won the most duels of the match (nine). He did all of this in a match where he played both a winger in the back three system as well as an outer back while in the 4-3-3. Versatile and effective wherever he was placed.

Full-Time Thoughts

Photo Credit: Chris Humphries

Losing at home will never not suck, but to Memphis’ credit, they are a quality team this season. Are they 3-1 better than LouCity? I’d argue no, but I can’t refute that they are currently the better side. Momentum and mentality are big influences on a team’s performances over the course of the season and MEM and LOU are on opposite ends of that spectrum. “It’s a group that’s obviously really down right now, but I was extremely proud of how we started the second half,” Coach Cruz said of his squad. “Ultimately, all we can do is keep our heads up and put ourselves in position to be prepared next week. But I’m obviously not happy with the result.”

The team’s offensive woes have lingered uncomfortably long in 2023. The 3-5-2 to start the match largely stymied 901’s attack but didn’t offer a ton in the way of scoring opportunities. Switching to the 4-3-3 changed the game. “We put them under it until their second goal,” said Coach Cruz. “When you look at the chance creation in the second half, that was more like us. That was more our expectation. But we’ve got to finish our chances.” Opportunities were there throughout the match (2.15 xG) but finishing remains a major issue. Props to Wilson Harris on bagging one as soon as he got on the pitch, but you’ll often need more than one to win matches. Pouwels, Lancaster, and the various midfielders used in this one need to carefully review their time on the pitch to see where they can elevate their game and start putting balls into the net. Louisville City’s defense hasn’t been a major issue this season (when you exclude the losses to ELP and SAC). As mentioned above, two of the three conceded were rather unlucky, but there are still elements of those sequences in which they could have been better.

Fans are frustrated and beginning to ask more questions about this team as the purple powerhouse slips down the table. Do the losses and draws feel bad? Absolutely. But don’t lose sight of the bigger picture. All things considered; this team is still in a relatively decent spot. LouCity has 21 points in 13 matches, putting them currently in 5th in the East. They have one to two games in hand on everyone ahead of them except Memphis. Of those in front of them, they have yet to play PIT and TBR and still have one (home) encounter with CHS still to go. Looking behind them is the Birmingham Legion and Indy Eleven, who are both five points back. The vibes may be off for this team, but many teams would kill to have our spot in the standings.


What about past season's performances? It’s a shame we have not progressed a ton since the first check in a month back, but when you take a look at where we were each season 13 matches in, the 2023 squad isn’t too far off the mark. Goals for (GF) is clearly an issue and I won’t sugarcoat that element, but in terms of goals against (GA) and points, we’ve been worse. The current team has let in fewer goals and earned more points than the 2019 team (who ended up making the finals) and isn’t too far off the mark on points compared to the two championship teams in 2017 and 2018.

There is still a lot of soccer left to play. I’d rather the team struggle now than later. Entering the postseason hot means so much, and I am maintaining faith that it will all come together at the right time. FiveThirtyEight has not given up on this team. They still hold the highest probability to both make and win the finals. The lead has closed, but they are standing firm with their pick. LouCity’s next regular season matches are at Phoenix, vs Las Vegas, and at Pittsburgh. While Pittsburgh is undeniably good, Phoenix is middle of the pack in the West, and Vegas dwells at the back of the pack. Seven to nine points in the next three could really do wonders to help change people’s feelings on this team. Here is to hoping they crack the code sooner than later and begin their march to the top of the table.


Parting Thoughts

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