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Match Recap: Louisville City vs Sporting Kansas City 2 – 08/19/2020

EM Dash Photography

It was back to Group E play as Louisville City took on Sporting KC 2 for the third time in this strange 2020 season. This midweek match was postponed seven days due to a positive COVID-19 test. Between the originally scheduled date and last night’s match up, City found a needed win while SKC drop points to St Louis. The two sides came into the match 1-1-0 against each other on the year and both needed a win to get back on track to fight for a postseason spot. While Lou City entered the contest the favorite, many were still only cautiously optimistic and wondering if the team had truly “clicked.”

Louisville was back in their familiar 4-3-3 formation with curiously few changes to the lineup. Coming off a short break, one would normally expect more changes. Presuming everyone was fit for action, no reason to fix something that isn’t broke. The only adjustment we saw was Oscar Jiménez in for the promising Jonathan Gomez. JoGo did, however, make the bench along with a returning Brian Ownby. On the KC side, it’s worth calling out that their leading scorer, Wilson Harris, started the match on the bench.

The first few minutes of the match were slow with both sides trading possession and feeling each other out. Not long after, City came out as the aggressor. A Lou City free kick was taken outside the box at 8’ but was headed over the goal. At 11’, Oscar made a long pass to Antoine Hoppenot who drove the ball down the left flank and sent a cross sailing to Cam Lancaster. Cam caught the cross with his chest and sent the ball past the keeper into the net, propelling Louisville to an early lead. A goal up early, Morados had seemed to find their rhythm early. Sporting, however, had no plans to give up yet. They had a dangerous possession at 20’ coming from a free kick. For several minutes, they kept on the pressure on, keeping the ball deep in City’s end. With the aggression from KC dealt with at 26’, Napo Matsoso, back in the winger role, sent a nice cross through a defenders five-hole into the box but unfortunately it did not lead to a shot. Shortly after, Napo found himself one-on-one with the goalie who did well in coming off his line and stopping the shot. Louisville City continued to keep the ball on the Sporting KC end and at 27’, Cam had a header hit the side post. Mr. Corben Bone had a breakthrough moment at 29’ after receiving a long pass from Oscar. Bone made a silky-smooth maneuver around a sliding defender, leaving him open to nail in his first goal wearing purple. Unfortunately, right before the hydration break, Lou City had a momentary defensive lapse and allowed for a header to sail past keeper Ben Lundt and eliminating the clean sheet.

The hydration break gave Louisville an opportunity to regroup which lead into the play of the night. At 36’, Napo made an absolute mess out of two defenders by juking them out, sending the ball between one’s legs, and then crossed into the box for Bone who put it away to secure his brace. I’ve watched Napo’s sequence no less than 50 times since it happened and it has not gotten old. Absolutely outstanding work by the midfielder turned winger. As the half began to near its end, Oscar got in a bit of trouble. He was carded at 39’ and then reprimanded at 43’. Four minutes of stoppage time later, the first half was over and the good guys were on top.

At the midway point of the night, Cam, Bone, and Napo were all having themselves a great outing, earning player ratings of 8.4, 8.9, and 7.8. Hoppenot was also playing well, sitting on a rating of 7.4. Lou City normally dominates in possession, however, by the halfway mark they only had the ball 44% of the time. Despite this, they managed to get off six shots (to KC’s four) with four on target. A huge improvement over previous matches. They also lead in chances created with twelve to Sporting KC’s four.

City decided to swap Cam for Ownby coming into the second half. It didn’t take too long for the excitement to resume. Napo took what appeared to be an nonthreatening, rolling shot but the ball somehow found its way to the net at 53’. This surprising treat of a goal put the home side up 4-1. In response, Sporting made a slew of substitutions which included bringing their leading scorer, Harris, off the bench and into the match. Things then started to get a little chippy. At 58’, Hoppenot was preoccupied with a less-than-friendly conversation with a KC player on the ground, which allowed for another KC player to take the loose ball into the Lou City box and nearly make a chance out of it. Not long after, at 60’, another Sporting KC player took and threw the ball at Sean Totsch. Change was in the air for Louisville City at 62’ when JoGo and Akil Watts were called over and began to get prepped for action. Another Kansas sub happened before City’s, as Fredlin Mompremier made his way on at 66’. JoGo entered the match at 70’ replacing slow-moving Oscar, who appeared to have done something to his left leg. The final hydration break of the match occurred at 76’ after a KC shot went wide right of the net.

At 79’, Luke Spencer replaced Hoppenot, beating Akil onto the pitch. At this point, SKC2 seemed to have found a bit more of an attacking presence. This may have stemmed from desperation to try and get something from the match or Mompremier (who I felt helped make a noticeable difference for them). They challenged the Lou City “D” late with a great bouncing shot that was stopped by Lundt at 83’ and a hard shot body blocked at 84’. That shot nailed Speedy Williams in the groin area sending him down. Louisville City made their final subs of the night at 90’ sending on Jimmy Ockford and Akil (finally) for Speedy and Pat McMahon. After six minutes of stoppage, mercy was called and City was declared the victor in the important Group E match up.

If the Loudoun win was not convincing enough, this one certainly had to be. The team continued to make positive strides in addressing the pitfalls that have held them back since return to play. It was the second consecutive multi-goal win and the first dominate performance. There were many outstanding players on the night, but Napo and Bone stood above the rest. Napo continued his hot streak earning a fantastic player rating of 8.7 with one goal and one assist. He also had the most tackles of the match at five and the most duels at nine. The internet was (and still is) abuzz re-watching that phenomenal assist by the fan-voted man of the match. Bone would have won those honors in any other circumstance. He earned a stellar 9.1 player rating scoring his first two goals for the Kentucky side.

It was uncharacteristic for Lou City to have the lesser possession at 41%, but hey, who cares if we keep on scoring and winning like that! The purple team took nine total shots with six on target. For comparison, they took 18 shots against Loudoun (three on target) and 22 against Indy (three on target). A huge improvement in the shot selection department as well as conversion. It’s been great watching the turnaround in performance over the past two matches. The #Hackout crowd has officially been silenced.

City jumped St Louis in the standings and now occupies second place. Although they may seem to have their swagger back, there is still a lot to do. It’s still a close race to the playoffs and every match counts. FiveThirtyEight has Morados up to a 58% chance for making the post season. Louisville City is back at home on 08/26 and will be facing off against a tough Indy side. Lou City is the slight underdog, according to FiveThirtyEight, with a 35% chance to win compared to Indy’s 36% chance. Buckle up, there is still a lot of excitement to come!

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