Match Recap – Louisville City vs Pittsburgh Riverhounds – 10/29/2022 - 2022 Playoffs
Louisville City’s performance in the regular season earned them a deserved bye between their last regular season match and their first playoff match. When the dust settled from round one of the playoffs, it was the Pittsburgh Riverhounds who were set to come to Lynn Family Stadium for the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. Morados previously secured a home win and an away draw to the Hounds in 2022 regular season play, but a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals was on the line for this match. Louisville has been a regular for the ECF. Would they extend their run to eight appearances, or would PIT be the first team to prevent them from advancing?
Brian Ownby, Kyle Morton, and Cameron Lancaster were all listed as questionable entering this match. Only Cam made the eighteen for the match. The starting lineup matched that of the last match they played against Hartford and began in the same back-three formation.
Louisville City took early control over the match, however, it was the Riverhounds who scored first. A cross flew into the box at 15’, missed the head of the attacker Sean Totsch marked, and fell to the feet of an attacker that slotted in behind him. Manny Perez was unable to get to the man before he slotted the ball in past Danny Faundez. LouCity continued to maintain the majority control over the match but struggled to find shooting opportunities. AT 31’, Perez made a run down the right flank and sent a low cross into the box to Wilson Harris. The defender was able to force the ball out and prevent Harris from redirecting the ball goalbound. Matiti Mushaglausa attempted a similar shot at 45’ but his shot went wide. There was a lot of control in the first half, but little to show for it.
The second half began poorly for the home side as at 47’, a defensive lapse allowed for a run to be made through the back line and the ensuing shot got past Faundez. Louisville suddenly found themselves down 2-0. Following the second goal, Corben Bone came in for Wes Charpie, marking a change in shape back to the tried-and-true 4-3-3.At 52’ off one of the many corner kicks of the night, Totsch nearly got his foot to a promising point-blank shot but missed in the chaos. Bone was backing him up and did make contact with his shot, but it sailed over the crossbar. Faundez came up big at 60’ when PIT got a breakaway shooting opportunity. He came off his line and closed down on the attacker, blocking his shot. Another Fanudez save at 67’ helped to keep LouCity’s hopes alive. Napo Matsoso, Elijah Wynder, and Cam all entered the match at 69’, replacing Ray Serrano, Paolo DelPiccolo and Harris. Still searching for a comeback catalyst, Tyler Gibson was subbed out for Carlos Moguel at 79’. Time was beginning to run short and Louisville’s exit from the playoffs was looming. A glimmer of hope present itself at 83’. A ball lofted into the box was headed centrally by Perez to Elijah, whose shot was blocked. Perez got the rebound and put it in the net. 2-1 with roughly ten minutes to go, including stoppage time. At 84’, Elijah was knocked over in the box, prompting the ref to point to the spot. Cam stepped up and scored. The score was now 2-2, and the momentum was all going LouCity’s way. Regulation time would be called, with the scoreline still level. On to extra time.
Cam, who only came in 20 minutes prior, was subbed out for Oscar Jimenez at the start of ET. It was later revealed that the staff knew he could only go a limited number of minutes. His exit from the match was not the result of an injury aggregation. With that change, the team reverted to the back three, with Perez backfilling the opening in the attack. At 98’, the deadlock was almost broken by a wonderful strike out of the air from Totsch, but the PIT keeper made an outstanding fingertip save of his shot. LouCity continued to capitalize on their positive momentum and applied pressure on Pittsburgh. At 107’, Perez headed a redirect corner kick from Totsch and sent it toward the top right corner of the goal. A PIT defender narrowly got his head to it to send it away. Josh Wynder put it back into the mixer, but the keeper punched it away to eliminate the danger. Louisville continued to be the primary aggressor, but a winner was still not decided by the 120’ mark. It was on to PKs.
Totsch was first up for Louisville and made his attempt. The first shot by the Hounds was blocked by Danny Faundez to give his side the edge. Josh, Oscar, and Napo all made their shots, along with the PIT players. Carlos Moguel was 5th and could seal the win with a goal. He took a long leadup to the shot and sent it to the keeper’s left, who could only helplessly watch as he dove in the opposite direction. Louisville City secured the win and was advancing to their 8th Eastern Conference Finals in as many years.
By The Numbers
Louisville’s first half consisted of 59% possession with 4 shots taken, none of which were on target. Their second half was an improved 71% possession with 9 shots, five on target. These numbers, as well as the xG chart below, show a clear swing in the home team’s favor. John Morrissey does a great job in breaking down the tactical side of this wild match, but it’s clear that adjustments to both style and personnel played a big role in Morados’ thrilling comeback.
Player Of The Match
While it certainly wasn’t a perfect match, there were a number of performances to be proud of. Manny Perez was all over the place, playing a role on both sides of the ball. Sean Totsch made several outstanding defensive efforts. Elijah Wynder came on late and made the most of his opportunity. However, my POTM goes to Danny Faundez. Filling in for the absent Kyle Morton, Faundez came up big when the team needed it the most. His stop in PKs literally saved the season. He began as a trialist, waited his turn, and when his number has been called, he has performed.
LOUvPIT was an instant classic. By 80’, LouCity was down 2-0 and people were heading for the exits. Perez’s goal sparked hope and Cam’s PK goal, only a few minutes later, swung the mood in LFS in a way we have only seen a few times in the club’s history. As much as I like the numbers behind the game, there is an undeniable unquantifiable element. Clutch, X-factor, whatever you call it, it played a role in that match. Sometimes all it takes are a few fresh legs and giving some guys an opportunity to make a difference. The team had been able to get the ball into dangerous areas, but they struggled to convert those opportunities into shots and goals. They pushed and grinded it out and salvaged the match with little time to spare. And once the momentum swung their way, they made sure they didn’t lose it.
“I know I’ve said it a hundred times, but the emotion I feel now is pride,” Coach Danny Cruz said after the match. “I know how much everybody puts into every single day. That was special. The atmosphere was special. The goals were special. The support was special.” It was a gutsy performance. From the veterans who have been in similar situations before to the academy kids getting their first taste of playoff action, the boys got it done. It was a full team effort. Throughout this season, I have often praised the depth of this team and it was in full display in this match. Subs came in and made an absolute difference. The team even started missing a few key players in Kyle Morton and Brain Ownby. Playoffs isn’t always about beautiful soccer. It’s about who can get the job done in that particular setting. The “better” team doesn’t always win. And that was nearly the case with this match, but the win was secured in dramatic fashion. Time for the boys in purple to rest up and prepare for a third straight ECF against the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
FYI, if you have not already, check out the VamosMorados.com POTY post and see how a small donation to one of two causes can earn you a chance at a ball signed by the team!
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