Match Recap – Louisville City vs Memphis 901 – 10/23/2021
Louisville City has had a few hiccups in their 2021 campaign and was in the midst of another as they enter the final matches of the season. Losses in Memphis and Indy have put doubt in the minds of some as the start of the playoffs approach. After the LIPAFC loss, Coach Danny Cruz stated, “These last two results don't take away the other 28 games that we’ve played and how we’ve performed. So, I have full confidence in this group of men, I have full confidence in what we're trying to do, and I'm confident that come Saturday we're going to turn this thing around and put ourselves in a good position leading into the playoffs.” LouCity would get a quick shot at redemption as Memphis 901 was set to be the final regular-season opponent at Lynn Family Stadium. With Birmingham Legion failing to beat OKC Energy on 10/17, LouCity could stay in a position where they could control their fate. Beat 901 and first in the division would still be within reach.
Louisville City Lineup
For only the second time this season, Coach Cruz deployed the squad in a traditional 4-4-2. Oscar Jimenez, Wes Charpie, and Corben Bone all returned to the starting 11 along with Niall McCabe, who was tapped to play a more defensive midfielder role with Napo Matsoso and Tyler Gibson still out injured. McCabe has long been known for his flexibility on the pitch, so his ability to adjust as needed comes as little surprise to long-time supporters.
Despite Louisville City’s habit of making things happen early in their matches this season, this encounter began more like a slow burn. Good possessions from both squads, but very few quality opportunities were created. At 21’, LouCity cracked the stalemate and secured the first goal of the match. A misplayed ball by the Memphis defense awarded possession to City in their attacking third. Some give-and-goes ended with Jonathan Gomez lobbing a cross in from the corner of the box to Cameron Lancaster. Cam took advantage of the questionable defending and easily headed the ball into the goal near the near post. That would be his sixth-headed goal of 2021.
The back-and-forth affair continued, with opportunities remaining limited. At 41’, Memphis 901 sent a cross into the box. The head of an attacking 901 player narrowly beat Chris Hubbard to the ball and redirected it past him for the tying goal. The late equalizer certainly upset the home fans, but the goalscorer's subsequent celebration mocking Cam’s earplug gesture (from INDvLOU on 09/18) made them even more irate. The half wasn’t quite over yet. Three minutes into extra time, a long kick by the Memphis keeper fell into LouCity’s possession. A quick distribution to Cam, still only yards away from the center circle, was fired towards goal. The awkward knuckleball shot had just enough on it to elude the keeper and hit the back of the net. That goal not only put Morados up 2-1 but it landed Cameron Lancaster on SportCenter’s Top 10. After the match, Cam said, “I felt bad for the keeper because it’s a tough one to deal with, but thankfully it went in.”
An undeterred Memphis side came out in the second half and continued to test the two-time USL champs. They nearly were able to sneak in a goal at 54’ with a low shot at the near post, but it rolled inches wide. The potent LouCity attack was looking to set up their next scoring opportunity at 64’, with a pass to JoGo just inside the box. The Memphis defender, not eager to let the young protégé send across one of his patented crosses, collided hard with JoGo in an effort to win the ball. His challenge earned a whistle from the ref and a gesture to the spot. A penalty kick earned for LouCity! While the foul occurred close to the box's edge, it took place just inside, allowing the PK to be called. Cam, already sitting on a brace, stepped up to take the kick. It was never in doubt. 3-1 Louisville City and a hat trick for Cameron Paul Lancaster.
At 79’, Jorge Gonzalez and Antoine Paolo DelPiccolo came off for Paolo DelPiccolo and the young academy product, Carolos Moguel. Moguel, who signed an academy deal in March and a full first-team contract in September, officially became the third graduate of the academy to make an appearance with the first team during competitive play. Another huge moment for the club and their growing youth movement.
Kyle Greig, Pat McMahon, and Alexis Souahy would also make appearances later in the match to help see out the 3-1 victory.
By The Numbers
Although Louisville City dominated in possession, as they have done most of the season, the rest of the stats were relatively even. Both teams passed well, each at over 80% for pass success. A big improvement over Louisville’s terrible 72% during their last match. Memphis outshot LouCity 9 to 7 but City had more on-target shots; 5 to their 3. LouCity normally wins the xG battle, however, Memphis 901 nudged them out in this encounter.
Credit where credit is due; Memphis 901 turned out to be a much better side than most had anticipated. However, they were unable to get the best of LouCity outside the confines of their small home pitch. Louisville City desperately needed a win to stay competitive for first in the division and got the job done, breaking their two-game losing streak. While the win certainly left everyone in Louisville feeling good, Coach Cruz remained focused on the opportunities to improve as a huge match in Birmingham looms, “There're issues that we need to continue to address — certainly unhappy with (allowing) the goal five minutes left in the half. I can tell you that we’ve spoken about it over and over again and talked about different ideas and things that we need to do. Very unhappy with the conceding there.” Despite the defensive flub, the heroics of Cam, now up to 20 goals on the season, helped to ensure a comfortable win and all three points.
With the Legion’s destruction of Swope Park, the boys in purple officially enter the final match two points behind Birmingham, their final regular-season opponent. Should they manage to secure a win, they will leap-frog the Legion and cement themselves as first in the division and receive more favorable playoff seeding (aka away from Tampa Bay who’ve locked up Atlantic 1). FiveThirtyEight believes the LouCity has an uphill battle ahead of them and they are not wrong. Not only is it on the road, but a win is the only outcome that will matter for City. A draw will see the Legion earn first. The important thing is that Louisville city has control over their fate and they have a week to prepare and get the job done in Alabama. VAMOS MORADOS!
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