Match Recap – Louisville City vs Memphis 901 – 09/23/2022
Although the regular season is winding down, the intensity has yet to die down. A big match awaited Louisville City on a Friday night at home. Memphis 901 was within striking distance of LouCity’s first in the East. A Louisville win or draw would see off their efforts to advance in the standings. Could Morados get it done and inch closer to solidifying that coveted first-round playoff bye?
While Wes Charpie’s return to the starting eleven or the appearance of Sebastian Sanchez on the bench would normally be the highlights here, it’s the conspicuous absence of Brian Ownby that catches the attention. He scored a brace last time LouCity faces Memphis and has been indispensable all campaign. Josh Wynder is also MIA however his is explained via USYNT duty.
Early in the match, right before the five-minute mark, Matiti Mushagalusa fired off a hard shot from the corner of the box that the Memphis keeper parried away. Several minutes later, the first signs of chippiness in the match appeared with an incident between Corben Bone and a 901 attacker during play resulting in the MEM player on the ground holding his face. Thankfully, Bone was spared any repercussions for possible contact to the face. Matiti found another good shot from the box’s corner at 20’ that was blocked by the goalie. In the preceding five minutes, Memphis was able to create a few half chances, but no quality shots were registered from those opportunities. By 27’, the next moment of tempers boiling over had occurred, beginning with Matiti and a member of the Memphis squad and ultimately pulling in all members of both sides. Yellows were shown to both sides’ initial participants. At 42’, MEM blasted a shot towards goal that hit off the post and bounced back into play. The rebound went right to an attacker and was slotted past Kyle Morton at the far post. Thankfully for LouCity, the goal did not stand as offsides was called. After three minutes of added time, halftime was called with the score still level 0-0.
The second half started on a positive note for Louisville City. At 47’, Wilson Harris found himself with the ball off a deflected ball and buried it into the net to put the home team in the lead. Memphis leveled the score at 61’ off a scrappy sequence where LouCity failed to clear the ball from the box, allowing a shot to go through the defenders and past Morton at the far post. LouCity’s first sub action occurred at 65’ with Paolo DelPiccolo exiting the match for Elijah Wynder. Ten minutes later, it was Napo Matsoso for Jorge Gonzalez. Opportunities for either side would remain sparse through the remainder of regular time. At two minutes of stoppage, Oscar Jimenez entered for Harris. At five minutes of stoppage, off a (questionable) corner, disaster struck. Memphis headed in the go-ahead goal. With next to no time left, they went up 2-1. Almost immediately after the kickoff, the undealt with tensions from earlier in the match mixed with the emotion of the late goal led to a scrum, which resulted in two red cards shown to Memphis and one to LouCity’s Tyler Gibson. A disappointing ending to a match made it even worse for the home team.
By The Numbers
The eye test may have suggested that a draw would have been a fair outcome, but some of the statistical wins help to explain the minor tipping points in 901’s favor. Memphis outshot LouCity 12 to 8 and created more big chances (3 to 1). Louisville went 0/20 with crosses and lost out in duals (37 t o51) and the aerial battle (7 to 14). None of that probably helped Louisville’s efforts.
Player Of The Match
Matiti was quite visible throughout this match with his play. He passed well, found a few good shots, completed the most dribbles (6), and won the most duels (12) culminating in his 7.8 player rating. While the player rating on FotMob (and other sources) are not perfect measures, I’d agree with them here that he was one of the better players on the pitch for LouCity in this matchup.
And suddenly, Louisville City’s spot, as first in the East, is very much in question. It was a match at home where all they needed was to fend off defeat, but that did not happen. The remainder of LouCity’s regular season matches has just gotten much more important. “If you lose this game, (the conference lead is) out of your control now. That’s the reality, and we have to deal with that.” Coach Danny Cruz admitted after the match. “The culture of LouCity is games like this don’t happen, and it happened tonight and that’s just simply not good enough,” Paolo stated.
It was going to be a tough match, but playing on the wide pitch of Lynn Family Stadium and knowing they had the advantage on the table should have made it easier than the last encounter with Memphis (that they won). Against a quality opponent, opportunities were always going to be limited, and it was critical to make the most of those few provided. Going up early in the second half was huge, but things were only downhill from there. “I was really frustrated about how we handled things after going up a goal,” Coach Cruz said. “I thought we lost the tempo of the game and lost control of the game.” Both LouCity’s attack and defense did not improve as the match progressed. Memphis found a way back into the match and ultimately found a winner. The mental side of things was ultimately the most disappointing. Memphis wanted a chippy and high-emotion match, and Louisville conceded to those wishes. For as many veterans as we have, it was an uncharacteristic aspect to lose control over. This ultimately led to the late red card for Tyler Gibson, making their last few matches that much harder. “Our guys didn’t keep their composure and ultimately conceded late a goal. It’s not good enough.”
Although Louisville still technically leads the East, Memphis 901 is only two points back with a game in hand and arguably an easier schedule. They control their own fate while LouCity will need to pray for results elsewhere. “Our group can’t control what Memphis does from here on out. But we have to make sure that we put a good performance together and more importantly, get back to playing our football and finishing our chances.” Coach Cruz said. Control what you can control. The remainder of the schedule is now that much more important. Three points and nothing less for the rest of the regular season is the best they can do to position themselves for the playoffs. On to the next one.
Want to do a little more reading on LouCity? I suggest the following:
Be sure to check out the Vamos Morados Podcast featuring me, Benton, and Zach Allen-Kelly. It’s available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcast, Audible, and Spotify. Everything you need to listen can be found on the Podcast page. Subscribe so you don’t miss an episode!
We also host Soccer City Radio on Thursday's from 6:00-7:00 PM EST on ESPN 680/105.7