Match Recap –Louisville City vs Miami FC – 03/19/2022
Louisville City started the season off on a positive by securing a win over Atlanta United 2 at Lynn Family Stadium. While MLS 2 teams are generally the most competitive USL teams, it was a good introduction to several new players on the squad. LouCity’s most recent opposition, Miami FC, came into town to ramp up the intensity. Between their playoff loss to City last season and their acquisition of several former Louisville players, they entered the match with something to prove. Slated to be a playoff team, this was set to be LouCity’s first big test of the season.
Coach Danny Cruz was apparently happy with his first eleven selection as he opted to bring out the same team for this matchup. Even the bench was the same. The formation used in LOUvATL was the subject of debate of whether it was a 3-4-3 or a 4-3-3 (after sitting on it longer; I feel it was a 4-3-3 that was skewed for most of the match due to City’s domination), but in this match, it was more clearly a 4-3-3, a team staple in recent years. Miami, meanwhile, rolled out a 4-2-3-1, a variation from the 3-5-2 of their first meeting in the playoffs last year. New coach, new system.
It took less than 15 minutes to determine that this match would end up being described as “chippy”. Two yellows were issued to Miami within that span, however, LouCity would end up earning six of the nine handed out in the match.
Chances were limited early on, but Louisville was doing a better job dictating the tempo and maintaining control. Morados’ first real opportunity came at 25’ when a corner kick was taken and Manny Perez hit it goal-bound, but it was ultimately deflected out. The boys in purple broke the deadlock at 36’. Appropriately, it was the Wu Tang loving midfielder, Paolo DelPiccolo, who put the home side up. Some fancy footwork by Jorge Gonzalez followed by a cross to PDP set him up for his first goal of the season. The initial shot was unintentionally blocked by Wilson Harris, but Paolo got the quick rebound shot to put it in the net. “I saw the back line dropping and Jorge gets in so I stopped my run and saw a little pocket of space in the box,” DelPiccolo said after the match. “My first shot, I think Wilson might have blocked it, and then I just followed it up. It was nice.”
Louisville City was unable to find a second goal in the remainder of the first half. They kept the pressure on and maintained control. However, Miami weathered the storm and got into the locker room, with the game still in reach.
The second half nearly began with another Louisville goal. At 49’, Brian Ownby won the ball in a tussle at Miami’s end line and got it back to Corben Bone. Bone took a shot that was deflected away by a defender. Unfortunately for the visitors, it went right to Jorge at the top of the box whose beautiful shot at the near post forced the keeper to make a diving save. PDP almost made it two on the night at 55’ when he found himself with a wide-open shot in the center of the box. His shot, unfortunately, sailed over the crossbar. Another very close call for Miami occurred less than five minutes later. Great team passing resulted with PDP in possession at the top of Miami’s box. He lobbed a cross to the far post that Ownby instantly got his foot on. Miami’s keeper lunged to prevent Ownby from getting his first goal of the 2022 campaign. LouCity subs entered the match at 64’. Napo Matsoso and Matiti Mushagalusa relieved PDP and Tyler Gibson (who had both previously earned yellow cards). Ownby, who was hungry for a goal, received a header from Perez at 69’ but was unable to get it right on target. At 74’, however, he found the net. A long leading pass from Perez to Ownby sent Ownby sprinting down the right-hand flank. Steering the ball into the box, Ownby quick stop put the defender on the grass, allowing for the angled shot to be taken and put past the keeper off his line. 2-0 for LouCity! Post-match, Ownby said, “I just saw a ton of space. That’s what I love about this sport, so I just yelled at him (Manny Perez) to play it and I got the first touch in front of the defender, a good chop, and a good finish.”
Louisville City saw out the match with Carlos Moguel coming on at 86’ and Ray Serrano at 90’ for Jorge and Ownby. When the final whistle blew, City claimed victory with an early season statement win!
By The Numbers
Offensively, things went very well for Morados. 16 total shots, five on target, and four big chances. The two that were missed could have very easily been goals. The xG score for Louisville’s attack was a bit more unfavorable than one may have expected, having watched the match. There was just as much to be happy about on the defensive side. Miami was limited to only four shots, with only two of those on target. Their xG ended as an abysmal 0.35. Yikes. LouCity won the possession battle and passed with a >80% success rate compared to Miami’s 75%. Both Manny (41/46 89%) and Josh Wynder (61/68 90%) passed particularly well. Aside from the number of fouls and cards, the numbers told a very positive story for the home team.
Player Of The Match
There is a good argument for Manny Perez here. However, I’m giving this honor to Brian Ownby. This match was a great example of why PDP calls Ownby “most dangerous player” in the USL. He scored one and nearly found a second in the match where he was constantly burning the defense and creating opportunities. At 31, he is still blazing fast and a problem for all the teams he comes up against. Ownby had a fantastic match and should he keep up these performances, LouCity will be riding high throughout the season.
What a complete performance by the boys in purple. Miami is a well-constructed squad who came in with something to prove and LouCity completely shut them down. “Both from an attacking standpoint and a defensive standpoint, one thing I’m really proud of is for 90-plus (minutes) you’re getting the intensity that I expect from the first minute,” Coach Cruz stated after the match. “I talked a lot last season about how we didn’t concede a lot of chances, but we were still conceding goals. Anytime you have a shutout again tonight, the way we choose to play, it’s collective. That zero is not because of just the goalkeeper, not because of just the defenders. I felt that my staff and the players did an excellent job tonight.” Preparation came up in all the post-match interviews. Both PDP and Ownby made it a point to call out how well the team was prepped for this match-up. Soccer Holding’s staff also commented on the level of intensity of training the week leading up to this match. If you were not convinced by the team Coach Cruz has assembled, you should be now. It’s a tall order for any team in the USL to get the better of this team. If things continue this way, there will be a lot to celebrate throughout the season.
But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves! It’s a short turnaround for LouCity’s first away match against NY Red Bulls 2 on Wednesday, followed by the home edition of the Louisville-Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest on Saturday. City has a deep roster and Coach Cruz expressed his confidence in all his players when asked about the upcoming run of matches. It is yet to be seen if there will be any rotations in the lineup. If that should occur, it would be based on fitness and not performance, as those who have played have only gotten better from the first match to the second. Personally, there are some players I am interested in seeing debut or get more minutes (Ian Soler, Niall McCabe, Ray, and Matiti to name a few). There is still a ton of season, but I'm eager and excited to see how this full squad can contribute to this season!
Want to do a little more reading on LouCity? Might I suggest The Tifos of Louisville City, Louisville City’s Pathway To The Pros, Louisville City's Preparations For The Future, What Are Expected Goals (xG)?, or What Are Goals Added (G+)?.
Have a friend just getting into LouCity soccer? Be sure to send them the Introduction To Louisville City link to give them a point of reference to learn about the club and league.
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!