Match Recap – Monterey Bay FC vs Louisville City – 03/18/2023
Coming off the first match and first win of the season for Louisville City, revenge was in order as the boys in purple entered their second-ever meeting with Monterey Bay FC. The first match was a shocking win for the California team that left a sour taste in fans’ mouths. Would LouCity be able to secure some points in their second straight match out on the West coast?
The injury list was uncomfortably long, however, there is plenty of talent on the roster to field a very competitive starting eleven. Oliver Semmle made his first-ever start in place of the injured Kyle Morton. Paolo DelPiccolo made his first starts of the campaign in place of Niall McCabe. This marked his 200 club appearance. What a legend! The remainder of the starting eleven remained unchanged from day one. This includes Brian Ownby, who suffered a nasty foot injury in the last match. They were in the 4-3-3 shape used last season (and much of the club's history).
Slow start to the match. Not much within the first 20 minutes aside from LouCity dominating possession and keeping the ball in MB’s final third, but not many threatening opportunities. MB, meanwhile, had little time on the ball and almost no offense to speak of. At 24’, Semmle did well to deal with a breakaway attacker by coming off his line and stuffing the shot attempt. Matiti Mushagalusa has a great look on goal at 30’ off a Brian Ownby pass, but the shot was deflected by a defender. Only a few minutes later, Semmle came up big again but took a boot to the face for his efforts to stifle the MB attack on a 50/50 ball. MB was beginning to find their offensive footing and at 38’ they found an open look at goal that went narrowly wide of goal. The stalemate held until halftime.
Entering the 2nd half, Josh Wynder came on for Jordan Scarlett. At 48’, Thellufsen took a poor shot that was kicked out of the box by a defender and recovered by Amadou Dia. Dia made a beautiful lob to Ownby in the box, who put the ball past three defenders at the near post into the net to put LouCity ahead 1-0. A veteran move to make the most of a difficult position.
A goal-line cross by Matiti at 58’ flew across the net without a follow-up attacker to reroute it goalbound. Cam Lancaster was in position, but the defender had him positioned where a shot attempt was not going to be possible. At 67’ the game took a dramatic turn when Ownby received a (questionable) second yellow card on a collision with an opposing player (the club has since confirmed that it will be appealed). Paolo DelPiccolo received a card of his own in the aftermath of his disagreement with the call. “When he goes to drive there, it’s a bit of a slip, and I actually think he’s the one that gets fouled,” Coach Danny Cruz said of Ownby on the play. He followed that up by stating, “What we can’t do in that moment is control it. The call is made and we as a staff have to make the calls we need to make.” Carlos Moguel and Oscar Jimenez entered the match for PDP and Matiti as LouCity tried to cope with losing a man (a critical one at that). “I thought the staff did a really good job of making the moves we needed to make to get into the shape we wanted, which was a 5-3-1,” Coach Cruz said. “The players had worked on it in the preseason, so they know the shape. They know what we’re looking to accomplish in those moments.” Almost 15 minutes later, Elijah Wynder came on for Cam. Despite being a man up, MB was struggling to make anything happen. Niall McCabe came on for extra time in place of Tyler Gibson to help see out the 1-0 win.
By The Numbers
Despite playing a man down for roughly 25 minutes, LouCity still won out in the possession battle 52% to 48%. They also found more shots (10 to 7) and shots on target (3 to 1). LouCity only earned an xG of 0.79 but that bested MB’s 0.57 who, again, were a man up for a notable period. Can’t be too mad at that output, all things considered. Defensively, the team put up a great performance including 57% of duels won and keeping the opposition’s cross success rate at 14%.
Player Of The Match
You can make a case for a few different guys here, including Ownby (one goal) and Amadou Dia (one assist). However, I am going with Sean Totsch. He was tucked in and locked in during this match. He tied Dia for a team-high player rating of 8.0 and had an 84% accurate pass rate with one block and 7 clearances to his name.
The red card and the team’s response to it will be the predominant takeaway in most viewers’ minds. Thankfully, all positives on that front. “It’s not easy to make those changes in the middle of a game,” Coach Cruz commented. “But to see everybody on the same page — to see them work extremely hard to grind out a result — I think that shows the caliber of group we have.” PDP echoed the positivity surrounding the squad’s response to the adversity of going a man down. “It’s games like this that have a different type of feeling — even a better feeling that when you beat a team three or four-nil. One-nil, 10 men, just grinding — it took 16 different guys today, and to see everyone out there giving everything they had to get that win, it means a lot to the team.” Let’s not forget a big debut from newcomer, Semmle. “I’m very confident in him,” Coach Cruz said after the match. “He had a hell of a preseason. I thought tonight he made one massive save that kept us in it, but I think he was smart with his feet. He did a really good job with his communication. And I’m really proud of him. He got a shutout in his first career start and it’s something he truly deserves.” Scarlett continued his solid play we saw last match and Thellufsen improved over his first outing.
While the pros outweigh the cons in this match, there was some notable room for improvement. “At halftime, I was pretty stern with the group that we need to make sure that we get our momentum back, that we come out and we start the second half with the same intensity that we did the first,” Cruz said. “I felt after about the 30th minute we didn’t do that.” Louisville had control over the home team but failed to maintain it through the full first half. There is even a case to argue that more should have been made with that time in control, but credit to MB’s defense for hanging in there against the early onslaught from Morados. The red in the second half derailed things, but all in all, the second half was very much a success for the team. “We came out in the second half after the message and I thought they did an excellent job.” Coach Cruz continued, “We come away with a good goal from Brian, we go down a man and I would say from the group, that commitment to the shape that we’ve worked on previously in the preseason, and how many times we had to do that last year, I thought the players did an excellent job in the 5-3-1. It was a massive effort from the group.”
At the end of the day, a win is a win and there are a lot of things going right for this team. “When you look at all the players and the effort that was put in and the commitment to what we were trying to do, six points in two games on the road is a huge credit to the guys.” The start of a season presents its own challenges, but having the first two on the road, across the country, only compounds those issues. All six points were earned, and Coach Cruz didn’t appear to have any major grievances with his team’s play. I’ll take it. Excited to see the boys in purple at home for the first time this season! Vamos Morados!
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