Match Recap: Louisville City vs Pittsburgh Riverhounds - 10/10/2020
On Saturday night, Lynn Family Stadium hosted its first playoff match. The Pittsburgh Riverhounds came into town to take on Louisville City in what has become a budding rivalry for supremacy of the east. Fueled by their extra-time loss in last year’s Eastern Conference playoff, the Hounds were looking for a repeat of their 3-1 win in Louisville. Many had pegged this matchup as an Eastern Conference Finals caliber match. Because of the playoff structure, fans were treated to a first-round clash of the titans.
To no one’s surprise, Coach Hackworth deployed a starting eleven that has become very familiar to City fans. Cameron Lancaster, Antoine Hoppenot, and the playoff specialist, Brian Ownby, were featured up top. The reliable trio or Paulo DelPiccolo, Speedy Williams, and Corben Bone started in the midfield. Oscar Jimenz, Alexis Souahy, Sean Totsh, and Pat McMahon held down the backline with Ben Lundt in-between the sticks. While Napo Matsoso has had quite the outstanding year, he started on the bench as he was coming off a bit of an injury.
Early in this playoff encounter, it appeared to be an even match-up. Pittsburgh found the first solid look on goal at 13’. Ben Lundt stopped their first on-goal attempt, but the rebound got away from him to another member of the Riverhounds who was unable to capitalize. Only two minutes later, Ownby took a nice shot on goal, but Hound’s keeper deflected it out. City kept the ball in Pitt’s end, eager to get an early lead. At 17’, they did just that. Oscar sent a cross into the box and Cam took the one-timer which got past the Golden Glove winning goalie. A 1-0 lead provided Lou City fans a delightful moment of relief. Yet, there was still a lot of soccer to play. It nearly became a 2-0 lead when at 24’, Cam broke away and took on the keeper one-on-one but couldn’t find the net. Hoppenot took issue with a no-call tackle at 29', and his exchange with the referee earned him a yellow card. While I try to avoid being overly critical of officiating, the referees did not have a good night in the office. The match had several questionable calls and no-calls, including the challenge that triggered Hoppenot. While possession was relatively equal, City was proving to be the much more dangerous team. Another missed goal opportunity occurred at 40’ when Hoppenot’s poor cross missed a wide-open Ownby. Had that been a clean pass, it would have been a simple slotted shot that most fans in the stands could have made. Ownby recovered the pass attempt and sent it to Cam, who took a shot on goal, but the goalie stopped it. Right before the half was called, Bone took a sneaky shot through traffic that required a diving save by the keeper to prevent Morados from extending their lead. The Riverhounds were fortunate to enter the locker room only down by one.
The second half started with some more questionable calls from the officials. They showed Oscar a yellow card at 53’ for a sliding challenge despite getting all ball. At 61’, Hoppenot was taken down on a poor challenge that the official failed to call. The Riverhounds made the first substitutes of the night at 63’. Three minutes later, Louisville City followed suit by taking off Hoppenot (who was on the verge of earning a second yellow) and Cam (who was showing a little limp) for Luke Spencer and Napo, who had not been on the pitch since the last Indy encounter. At 67’, Pat made a beautiful sliding tackle that dislodged the opposition of the ball. With both sides still trying to make something happen in the match, each made some more substitutions at the 74’ mark. Ownby was relieved of duty and replaced by Jason Johnson. At 87’, Bone made a nice play around a defender and drove the ball downfield. An outstanding run by JJ helped to spread the defense just enough for Bone to manage a shot. While the shot was stopped, the keeper not able to hang on to it and the loose ball rolled into the net. It was one of the stranger goals of the season. With the game all but done, Jimmy Ockford was subbed in for PDP to help see off the remaining five minutes of stoppage time.
It was clear throughout this match that the Pittsburgh Riverhounds were a more quality opponent relative to others City has faced this season. Unfortunately for them, Louisville City showcased that they are still on a different level. The match statistics make the match feel closer than what we saw on the pitch. The possession battle was relatively even, but the Hounds failed to take advantage of their time on the ball. City kept them to only one shot on goal, meanwhile Lou City accumulated five on goal on ten shots. While Cam won the fan-voted Man of the Match honors after having secured the opening goal, FotMob awarded it to Bone, who bagged a goal of his own along with a match-high player rating of 8.3. Speedy also had a solid performance after completing the most passes of the match (55) at a success rate of 85%.
Morados’ big win sent a message to the rest of the league they were out for redemption after falling short in last year’s finals. With Saint Louis’s game-winning goal in extra time against Hartford, next week will see the Kings’ Cup rivals face off once more. In 2015, STL and Lou City faced off in Louisville for their first matches. It’s poetic that the same match-up could be Saint Louis’s last match. FiveThirtyEight have Louisville City as the early favors. Coming off such a big win, it’s hard to see them slowing down now. See you all back at Lynn Family Stadium on Saturday for one last Kings’ Cup clash!