Match Recap – Memphis 901 vs Louisville City – 10/13/2021
Coming off two home wins (NM and SKC), it’s back on the road for the boys in purple. One more trip down to Memphis before the end of the season. With the Birmingham Legion right on Louisville City’s tail, every point will be critical in the final stretch of the regular season (as spelled out in How’s It Going Part 4). City only managed a draw in the previous trip south to TN, however, it was nearly a win for the away side. Would LouCity be able to beat the 901 and keep the Legion at bay or would points be dropped, allowing for the race for first to tighten further?
Louisville City Lineup
A number of adjustments were made from the previous match. Given the short turnaround time and the looming Indy trip only a few days later, this comes as little surprise. Josh Wynder, Wes Charpie, Niall McCabe, Akil Watts, and Abdou Thiam all came into the starting lineup for this match. Jorge Gonzalez, who had been out with injury, appeared on the bench. Regular starters such as Brian Ownby, Corben Bone, and Jonathan Gomez (still out with the Mexican U20 team) were all conspicuously absent. FBRef has City’s formation down as a 4-3-3, however, it was quite possibly more of a 3-5-2 at times.
Louisville City has made it a habit to come hot out of the gates, and this match was no exception. They have scored 28% of their away goals this season within the first 15 minutes and added to that tally this match. At 13’, a corner kick taken by Oscar Jimenez was hit low to Paolo DelPiccolo, who was waiting, unmarked, away from the crowd in front of the goal. He took a quick strike that found its way through the traffic to put LouCity up 1-0. A wonderfully designed set piece.
The home team looked to level the score at 17’ when they headed a free-kick goal bound. It was stopped by Chris Hubbard, but it was not secured. Thankfully, the clearance was made before a rebound shot could happen. The match hit a bit of a lull in the action with neither side creating a meaningful opportunity until the 32nd minute. A Memphis attacker took an audacious crack from distance that forced Hubbard to leak and push it over the crossbar. City almost found themselves on the wrong end of the highlight reel. The back-and-forth contest continued. Both sides doing enough defensively to stymie any attacking buildup. With halftime mere seconds away, disaster struck for the visitors. A nice buildup ended with a 901 attacker with the ball along the touchline. He lofted it over a crowd of LouCity defenders, across the goal, to his peer who was able to get in front of Wes and Akil to head it into the net. An undesirable reoccurring event as of late for Louisville City. 1-1 at the half.
The second half of play commenced with more of the same. The usually dangerous Louisville attack was failing to find their normal success in this match. At 60’, Wes and PDP both came off for Alexis Souahy and Jorge. Six minutes later, a cross was whipped into the box where Abdou narrowly missed heading the ball on target on what could have been a real chance for City. Five minutes later, at 71’, he was subbed out for Antoine Hoppenot. LouCity’s night got much worse at 78’ when a long Memphis ball into Louisville’s final third led to some great ball movement resulting in a shot near goal that went through Hubbard’s legs. A disastrous turn of events in an already lackluster LouCity performance. 2-1 Memphis 901. At 83’, Pat McMahon came in for Wynder. At 87’, a 901 attacker took a hard hit at a cross that went skyward but would have been a real scoring opportunity had it been hit cleanly. Five minutes of extra time were called, but it was not enough for City to find an equalizer.
By The Numbers
This was not the Louisville City we are accustomed to seeing. Offensively, they were almost completely MIA. Only two of their 14 shots were on target. Both occurred in the first half. Defensively, they allowed four “big chances” with five on-target shots. Memphis 901’s 2.25 xG to LouCity’s 0.81 xG sums things up well. Even possession and passing were not up to the normal standards. Roughly equal possession isn’t great for a team that thrives on controlling the action, but the 69% pass success rate might be even more painful. Numerically, there were no redeeming qualities.
The highs and lows of soccer. We go from the thriller that was LOUvSKC to the painful MEMvLOU. It was quite possibly LouCity’s worst performance of the season and it could not have come at a worse time. Entering the match, City held only a two-point lead over the Birmingham Legion. After our loss and their win again, the Austin Bold, they are one point ahead in the standings. For the first time this season, FiveThirtyEight has the Legion with a better chance of winning the division. A disastrous performance and turn of events. After the match, Coach Danny Cruz (who now holds the job permanently), admitted, “I felt tonight at times we looked a bit lethargic — a bit heavy-legged — and conceded two goals we shouldn’t concede.” On the concession late in the first half, he stated, “I felt a few guys fell asleep in the moment, and that’s certainly an issue we need to solve. Ultimately, it’s not good enough. I take full responsibility for us.” Sean Totsch said, “Their chances and their goals came from us not making plays in critical moments.”
While this was essentially the worst-case scenario, it does deserve some context that helps to make it a *little* more palatable. This was the team’s first loss since LOUvTUL on 09/03/2021. Morados went unbeaten in seven matches on an away-heavy schedule. This match was also on short rest, with another match only a few days later. Important players like Brian Ownby, Corben Bone, and Jonathan Gomez were all uninvolved. To top it all off, Louisville City still controls their destiny. If they win the remaining three, including a wildly important BHMvLOU match to end the season, they will secure first. It’s easy to get caught up in the doom and gloom of a loss like this, but things are far from over. The job has just gotten a bit tougher. If any team can do it, it’s Louisville City!
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