Match Recap – Memphis 901 vs Louisville City – 04/29/2023
After a close draw against Charleston, followed by a well-played midweek Open Cup loss to FC Cincinnati, Louisville City was on the road again, this time heading south to take on Memphis 901. MEM may have lost their talented coach Ben Pirmann, but they still have a solid roster capable of pushing LouCity. Last meeting, Memphis played spoiler at LFS. Would the boys in purple snag three points on the road or would 901 hinder their charge to the top of the East?
Jorge Gonzalez, back from injury, rejoins the starting eleven alongside Ray Serrano who is making his first start of the 2023 campaign. Matiti Mushagalusa made the bench after playing the full FCC Open Cup match. Brian Ownby, who was questionable, was also available on the bench. Wes Charpie also made the bench after seeing his first 2023 minutes in the Open Cup only a few days prior.
Louisville City found an early lead only 9’ into the match. Ray Serrano took a corner kick that Sean Totsch was able to head in past the keeper.
Throughout the first half, both teams created several opportunities with great buildup play, but both defenses were able to snuff out those opportunities preventing a shot or limiting the shots to non-threatening opportunities. LouCity nearly doubled their lead at 42’ when Paolo DelPiccolo shot the ball through the MEM keeper’s legs, but his defender bailed him out by making a goalline clearance. Memphis applied the pressure late in the half but the whistle blew without them finding a goal of their own.
Memphis 901 found their equalizer early in the second half. At 52’, a cross went into the box when Semmle was off his line. Josh Wynder was there to disrupt its flight path, but it fell to the feet of a charging attacker who buried it into the net to tie up the match 1-1. About ten minutes later, Wes Charpie, Brian Ownby, and Dylan Mares all entered the match with Paolo DelPiccolo, Jorge Gonzalez, and Ray Serrano coming out. That move would mark a formation change from the 4-3-3 to a 3-5-2. Carlos Moguel came in for Rasmus Thellufsen not long after at 69’. Manny Perez went down at 81’ which forced yet another sub, bringing Oscar Jimenez to replace him. As the match crept towards its conclusion, Memphis ramped up the pressure but LouCity was able to keep their offensive efforts at bay and the match ended as a 1-1 draw.
By The Numbers
Despite securing the early lead, this one was surprisingly in Memphis’ favor. LouCity only managed 39% possession and 9 shots (4 on target) to 901’s 761% possession and 17 shots (7 on target). It’s not often that Louisville is beaten in the xG battle, but this one was quite a gap; 2.04 for MEM and 0.72 for LOU. Even Louisville’s passing accuracy was at a lowly 68%. Thankfully, the final result wasn’t as Memphis-leaning. The more one looks at the stats from the match, the more the draw feels like a win.
Player Of The Match
In his first start of the season, Ray Serrano earned an assist and created three chances in his ~61 minutes of play. For a team looking for goals and goal-scoring opportunities, his creativity and touch was needed. “I feel like I created a couple of chances,” Serrano said after the match. “I’m just glad to be back, to be honest. It’s been a rough four or five weeks for me. I’m happy to be back and contribute for the team.” Hoping that he can continue to serve as an option to create opportunities whether that be in open play or set pieces.
A point on the road is generally a relatively positive result, but this LouCity match felt like a minor regression after the team’s midweek performance against Cincinnati. “We weren’t good from a second ball standpoint tonight. We were excellent on Wednesday in that phase of the game,” said head coach Danny Cruz. “But I think the thing that was most poor on the night that caused us a lot of issues was that when we won the ball and looked to play forward, we immediately turned it over again. There was a ton of space to exploit, but we didn’t do that.” Ray Serrano reiterated Coach Cruz’s possession concerns. “I think we just needed to secure the ball and win those second balls. We lost a lot of those and turned the ball over a lot. That was key tonight.” Despite the criticisms, Coach Crus remains bullish on this team. “There’s clear areas where we know we need to be better...and perspective — we’re in a good spot on the table. We have some home games coming up, fortunately, and we’ll look to keep building from there. We’re still in a good spot.”
In defense of the team, it’s been a tough stretch. Three away matches in a week isn’t easy even with squad rotation. There was optimism that the positive momentum from the Cincy game could carry over, but unfortunately, there wasn’t enough there. It was the first game in five matches that Oliver Semmle conceded a goal. Given the volume of chances, Semmle faced, letting one in isn’t terrible. The bigger concern lies on the offensive side of the ball. It’s been an uncharacteristic struggle for Louisville to create opportunities and put some balls in the net. LouCity’s lone goal wasn’t even from open play. Should possession have been better retained, perhaps there was a second goal in the match to make the difference. One point on the road is still not a bad outcome, but when you’re pushing for the regular season title (or at least as many home games as possible in the playoffs), every point counts. Here is to hoping the scoring floodgates open up soon.
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