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  • Writer's pictureBenton

Match Recap – Louisville City vs Pittsburgh Riverhounds – 03/23/2024 



Photo Credit: EM Dash

Hot off a road win over El Paso, LouCity was set to play yet another team they faced in the preseason. The first meeting in 2023 against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds was a close contest, with questionable officiating. The second encounter, at Lynn Family Stadium, went the way of the visitors. Between those matches and the preseason loss (1-0), the squad was overdue for three points against Bob Lilley’s side.

 










 

Full-Time Thoughts


Photo Credit: Connor Cunningham

When Coach Danny Cruz spoke to the media ahead of this home opener, he said he wanted teams excited to come here but not wanting to come back afterward. By and large, it was likely mission accomplished. “When you look at the atmosphere, it was incredible,” said Coach Cruz. “In the first half, our performance helped the atmosphere get louder and louder… To be able to get three points in front of our fans at home, making this place a fortress, my hope is Pittsburgh doesn’t want to come back.” Some fans viewed this as a “trap” game. The kind where you walk in confident due to the opposition's lack of form, but they figure it out and get the better of your team. Given PIT’s playstyle, highly defensive and good on the counter, it wasn’t an unreasonable concern. Thankfully, Louisville secured a 3-1 win, continuing their perfect season and treating fans to a thrilling win.  


Photo Credit: Chris Humphrey

There were lots of positives on both sides of the ball. The boys in purple amassed 17 shots with eight on target. FotMob credits the team with four big chances and ended the day with an xG of 2.75. Between last season’s offensive woes and last week’s attack that didn’t exactly catch the league’s attention, it’s no surprise that the outing was well-received. The defense deserves praise as well. They did allow the first goal of the season; however, PIT was limited to only five shots, and they only just passed the 0.5 xG mark with their final tally of 0.62. Las came up big for the second straight match with another phenomenal save and Totsch made a crucial goalline clearance. And with 218/353 (~62%) of the Riverhound’s accurate passes occurring in their own half, the LOU midfield deserves recognition for the lack of quality possession for the visitors.  


Photo Credit: Connor Cunningham

At this point, I want to dedicate an entire paragraph to one Ray Serrano. You can read more about his match in LouCity’s analytical write-up, but to sum it up, he was fantastic. Ray clearly has talent. I often tell people that he is the most technically gifted Louisville City player. That has not always translated into on-field success. Not that he has been bad. Moreso, it was clear that there was untapped potential. Another level to his game that we have been waiting for. He is a young player, only 21, so it isn’t unusual for a gap between the reality and potential to exist. This season, it is clear he has noticeably closed that gap. While he did not get the assist credit for Wilson Harris’ goal, it would not have happened without his (deflected) pass. He earned the PK that Sean Totsch converted. And let's not forget he scored a late goal of his own that sent the crowd into a frenzy. Let's hope that this breakout is not a flash-in-the-pan but rather a sign of things to come.   


Photo Credit: Connor Cunningham

Despite the positive elements, it was not perfect. The conceded goal was less than ideal and the dominant performance from the first half did not fully carry over to the second half. “I think we could have started a little better in the second half,” Totsch commented after the victory. When looking at the stats from just the 2nd half, the drop-off in performance is obvious. Louisville found only five shots to Pittsburgh’s four. With the previously shared stats above and a little simple math, even the most uninformed soccer fan could make that observation. They did, however, score two of the three goals in the second half, so it wasn’t a total botch job. Just an element that will likely get extra time dedicated to it in the team’s film review.  


Photo Credit: Chris Carter

With the team having secured all six points from their first two matches, the concerns from 2023 feel like a distant thought. It’s a small sample size, but right now there is a lot to be happy with. The boys in purple are living up to their contender status and look like a team that most squads won’t want to play. It’s too early to make any broad conclusions, but so far, 2024 has been a fun ride. Fingers crossed it continues! 



Photo Credit: Chris Carter

Photo Credit: Chris Carter

Parting Thoughts

 


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