Match Recap – Louisville City vs Sacramento Republic – 09/03/2022
After losing midweek to rival team, Indy Eleven, Louisville City were heading back home for a cross-conference matchup against Sacramento Republic. While the boys in purple would be hungry for a win after two straight losses, Sac Republic would be a formidable opponent to try to get three points against. While short rest was a factor going against LouCity, Sac Republic distraction of the US Open Cup Final looming the Wednesday following this encounter. A unique match for a variety of factors. Was this the one in which Coach Danny Cruz and the gang would get back on track?
While INDvLOU featured a heavily rotated lineup, LOUvSAC was much closer to what one would expect the starting eleven to look like. Sean Totsch, Tyler Gibson, and Brian Ownby all made their return against the playoff-bound Sacramento team.
LouCity wasted no time finding the back of the net. Only nine minutes into the match, a cross from Amadou Dia was redirected past the keeper by Wilson Harris. A much-needed early lead for Morados on their quest to rebound from recent results. Louisville City was looking extra sharp and motivated and had firm early control over the match. At 19’, Paolo DelPiccolo took a low shot from outside the box that narrowly rolled wide. Four minutes later, Dia made one of the more impressive moves of the night. He slid in to intercept a pass and send the ball to midfield to Harris, who was handed a counter-attacking opportunity. Harris passed it off to Ray Serrano, whose shot was off target. Unfortunately, the visitors found the next goal of the match right before the 30’ mark. A lobbed cross from near the far sideline was headed at the near post, past Kyle Morton. Tied up 1-1. At 38’ a long free kick by Serrano was met by Jorge Gonzalez at the far post and headed just wide of the goal. Another close call for Jorge. His streak of unfortunate scoring luck continued. Ownby had a header at goal at 41’ but it was comfortably claimed by the keeper. The first half had more to offer before its conclusion. At 45’, a corner was taken by PDP and was perfectly sent to Totsch and headed, putting LouCity back in the lead. That was the defender’s EIGHTH goal of the season. “I went to a spot I wasn’t supposed to be in the box,” Totsch said with a grin after the match, “but I just tried to adjust to guys marking me. I told myself I was going to want it more than anybody else.” Louisville held the 2-1 lead into halftime.
Entering the second half, PDP was taken out for Corben Bone. LouCity nearly made it 3-1 at 51’ with a quick end line cross from Ownby to Harris, who took the shot on the fly. The Sac keeper was able to make the save on the point-blank shot. City almost let one in a minute later when a Republic attacker was allowed an open shot at the top of the box. However, he sent the ball wide. Shortly after this, play was halted due to lightning. It was Louisville’s first weather delay of the season, but play did resume that night. Those who stayed through the delay were treated for their patience. Ownby and Gonzalez came off at 80’ for Napo Matsoso and Elijah Wydner, LouCity’s first academy signing who was making his third appearance this season after returning from loan in League One. Wydner got his first shot on goal less than three minutes in off a cross from Dia. At 88’, Wydner found the back of the net. An end-line pass from Napo found Elijah, who took a shot through traffic and found his first LouCity goal. “It’s a great starting point for my first goal,” Wynder said post-match. “The older players have helped me out, coming back home after my first time being away from here. They made it easy on me to get back acclimated to the team.” It was a special moment for the club and a reward for the fans who stuck it out through the weather. The 3-1 score line would hold through the final whistle. Louisville city was back in the win column.
By The Numbers
While the possession percentages don’t exactly reflect this, LouCity had a staggering amount of control over this match. This can be seen in where Sacramento Republic was making their accurate passes and the average positioning of the players. Of Sac Republic’s 336 accurate passes in this match, a staggering 72% were in their own half. Below, you can see the average player positioning which made me audibly gasp when I saw it. The Louisville city press was in full effect this match. Sac did decent with their limited chances, but they were quite limited. They only got off one on-target shot but did have a comparable xG to LouCity. City, meanwhile, had six on-target shots and created five big chances. Despite the sub 1.5 xG, there is perhaps a case that they should have been more clinical with the opportunities presented. Still ultimately a good night in the office (and a much-needed one too).
Player Of The Match
Sean Totsch had an outstanding night on both sides of the pitch. Normally, I try not to let goals weigh too heavily in these decisions, but when a guy can be a defensive anchor AND score, he deserves it. Totsch is having a great season and is a critical part of the LouCity defense. Another stellar performance. With that said, I also want to shout out Amadou Dia. Another huge component of Louisville’s success who makes many phenomenal plays that often go unnoticed.
Coach Cruz kept it simple after the match; “It was a really good response from the last two results, and hopefully we can take this into another busy week.” Louisville City was nearing desperation for a result after being handed two straight losses, a first since late May. While the squad still controls their own fate in the Eastern Conference, the race for the regular season title is now out of their hands. San Antonio will have to drop points for Louisville City to regain the lead. Because of this, FiveThirtyEight is favoring SA but there is no reason why that can’t change down the stretch. Comparing schedules, there is a case for LouCity having it a tad “easier”. Time will tell, but the boys in purple will have to take it one game at a time. Control what can be controlled.
It got lost in the shuffle a bit, but Louisville City officially clinched the playoffs Saturday evening. While for many that would be a notable accomplishment, it’s the standard at LouCity. “There are guys in that locker room who haven’t done it before, so it’s something to be proud of,” Coach Cruz said. “But again, for us, it’s just one step in the direction that we expected, so everybody in that locker room deserves a ton of credit for where we are right now.” They have bigger ambitions than just clinching the playoffs. Excited to see where that motivation and drive takes them down the stretch and into the postseason.
Want to do a little more reading on LouCity? I suggest the following:
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