Match Recap – Louisville City vs New Mexico United – 10/04/2021
Updated: Oct 7, 2021
After a draw in Atlanta, Louisville City finally get to return home for a match in Lynn Family Stadium. It would be no ordinary match as City would take on an unfamiliar foe, New Mexico United. This LOUvNM match would have a national audience as it was getting the ESPN treatment. With the Birmingham Legion locking in their playoff spot a day prior, the pressure was on for LouCity to do the same. Would this be a joyous homecoming for the boys in purple?
Louisville City Lineup
Not many surprises with the squad’s lineup. Although the team was operating on short rest, Coach Danny Cruz did well last match to cycle out important players to maintain their fitness for this unique matchup. Many of the same starters from the last match except both Oscar Jimenez and Antoine Hoppenot would rejoin the starting eleven in the 4-3-3.
Louisville City came out intensely early in the match and looked rejuvenated to be back home. That energy and intensity translated into an early goal. Only 8’ into the match, Hoppenot sent a low cross in front of goal to Paolo DelPiccolo, who poked it in.
Roughly four minutes later, Hoppenot himself nearly scored on a similar play except the cross he nearly put in came from the right rather than the left. The New Mexico defense was clearly having trouble adjusting and Morados exploited that to secure goal number two at 14’. A low cross from Oscar in front of goal was tapped in by PDP. A brace for the captain!
City was playing with confidence, and they were seeing early results. After this second goal, NM figured out how to disrupt the repeated sequence and finally inserted themselves into the match. While they improved, LouCity was proving to be the superior side. At 32’, a great passing sequence resulted in a shot from Cameron Lancaster to the upper right portion of the goal, but it was batted away by the diving keeper. With halftime approaching, New Mexico caught a lucky break. With only seconds left in the half, an NM attacker drove the ball to the end line and got a cross past Sean Totsch to an unmarked man who slotted it in at the far post. Despite the 2-1 led, the opposition was able to enter the break with some momentum on their side.
The second half picked up with City still looking like the strong side. At 56’, Niall McCabe came on to relieve Corben Bone. Almost six minutes later, Louisville was arguably denied a scoring opportunity. A long pass to Cam was quickly dished over to Hoppenot in the box when a defender abruptly took him down and prevent him from registering a shot. The tackle appeared to be questionable, but the official did not signal for a penalty kick.
New Mexico fired back at 65’ with an open shot opportunity that was sent over the crossbar. LouCity made some more adjustments, taking off Jonathan Gomez and Hoppenot for Pat McMahon and Jimmy McLaughlin. At 71’, NM nearly leveled the scoreline when Oscar’s poor clearance of a cross was retrieved in the box by a New Mexico attacker who blasted a shot towards the goal that hit off the underside of the crossbar. It would be City who would find the back of the net next and put the match out of reach for the visitors. At 75’, a midfield interception led into a LouCity attack. Pat got the ball to Jimmy, who drove it down the pitch, did a crossover to shake the defender just enough to fire off a shot from the corner of the box. Jimmy’s pinpoint accuracy sent the ball right to the far post and just out of reach of the diving keeper at the near post. An absolutely superb shot from the super sub. “That’s a spot I feel like I thrive in,” Jimmy stated post-match. “So, I took my chance, did my move, and trusted my shot, and it was nice to see it hit the back of the net.”
At 84’ Kyle Greig and Joshua Wynder came in for Cam and PDP, but that was all she wrote. Louisville City not only secured all three points with the 3-1 win but they officially booked their seventh straight trip to the post-season!
By The Numbers
The possession/passing aspect of this match was rather interesting. It was fairly even, but both teams registered most of their accurate passes in their own half. This is unusual for LouCity, especially since almost 75% were on their own side. It is worth noting that when City did score; it happened rather quickly and was not necessarily a slow and methodical build-up. Possession aside, they got the goals they needed. Louisville outshot New Mexico 11 to 8 but the home team held NM to only a single shot on target. The xG against of 0.73 reflects the decent job that Morados did to contain their western conference foes.
While LouCity did manage to remain unbeaten during the long September road trip (often on small pitches), the draws and missed opportunities were frustrating. Not only was it great for all that they came back home, but they also got the win. A win that officially clinched the playoffs. “It doesn’t change anything,” PDP said of LouCity’s playoff qualification. “I didn’t even know we clinched. That’s never our goal here… The objective is to win every game: regular season, playoffs, everything. So we keep going ahead.” There were more pros than cons that came from this match. New Mexico is a near playoff team, with FiveThirtyEight giving them a 56% chance to play in the postseason. A quality win against a quality opponent. After the match, Coach Cruz divulged a bit into the planning for the encounter, stating he expected them to play in a 4-2-3-1, a formation NM had won their last three using, but when they used their often-selected 3-4-3, they were ready. He went as far too correctly predict the substitutions and formation adjustments that would be made a half time. “I thought it was an excellent 44 minutes in the first half,” Coach Cruz stated. “We concede one shot — maybe two in the first half — and then I think we got a little bit fatigued in the second half. But again, I thought we closed the game out really well.” This is a team full of both quality players and quality coaches who are taking the time to make themselves prepared for each encounter. LouCity fans expect nothing less and the team has the track record to back up its effectiveness. With the playoffs officially on, it’s now up to the squad to procure as many points as possible to ensure as much home-field advantage as possible.
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