Following a disappointing home loss to Memphis 901, Louisville City was set to head west to take on Phoenix Rising. This would mark the third occasion that the two USL powerhouses would face off. The first was the 2018 USL Finals at UofL’s Lynn Stadium, which gave the club their second star and the second was the inaugural USL Summer Showcase in 2022 at LFS, which ended in a draw. This was the first time that LouCity would take on PHX in Arizona.
Back to the 4-3-3 for LouCity. Mattiti Mushagalusa, Wilson Harris and Ray Serrano all rejoin the starting lineup for this match out west. Elijah Wynder remained in the starting eleven from last match albeit in a more familiar role.
42’ – Totsch
57’ – Mares
By The Numbers
After factoring out penalties, PHX led the xG battle roughly 1.63 to 0.44. They also led in shots (16 total to LOU’s 12), big chances (4 to 1), and even possession (55% to 45%). The first half may have had a slight Louisville lean, but the second half was Phoenix’s. Despite their table standings, Phoenix is not a bad team, hence LouCity entering this one as the slight underdogs.
Player Of The Match
This one was a difficult decision. Several performances deserve acknowledgment despite officiating decisions. Amadou Dia had another strong match. He was impactful on both sides of the pitch and even earned a PK for LOU. Unfortunately, a long ball caught his hand while his back was turned and it was (incorrectly) called a PK for PHX. Sean Totsch bagged Louisville’s PK shot (now seven for seven) and even made a goal-line clearance, but a late challenge was taken advantage of and with a little acting, got a PK called against him. All things considered; Oliver Semmle probably deserves POTM honors. He had another strong match and saved one of the two PKs, earning his team a crucial point. “He’s continuing to grow,” Coach Danny Cruz said of Semmle after the match. “He’s continuing to learn, and he’s continuing to develop. He did an excellent job there tonight.”
It’s a bummer how the officials impacted this heavyweight match. Dia’s handball was a foul, but it wasn’t in the box. Totsch didn’t make contact on his PK but going in so late invites a little acting and gives the ref the opportunity to make a call. “I think the penalty that gets called is not a penalty, which changes the game,” Coach Cruz said after the match. “I thought the players’ response to that, to make sure they did everything they could to come out of here with a result, becomes really, really important.” Nothing anyone can do about those decisions; however, it was ultimately a strong performance on the road.
“I feel really good about the result tonight,” said Coach Cruz. “You’re never happy to not get a win, but I think this is one of those games on the road where it’s a good result for us to come away for a draw,” Tyler Gibson said. “We’re unfortunate on a couple of calls and how things went, but I think this is one of those ones we put in a good shift and good performance, and it’s going to be a positive step moving forward to the next game.” Phoenix Rising played above their current spot in the table and presented LouCity with a tough challenge on the road. In a season where the results have been mixed, it was good to see a largely positive outing like this on the road. Multiple goals scored and asterisks next to one of the goals conceded (gotta do better on set piece defense).
The boys in purple now sit in 5th with a game in hand on both 3rd place TBR and 2nd place PIT. A win on that one in hand would put them level with the Rowdies and not far off the Riverhounds and 1st place Charleston Battery. A -3 goal differential doesn’t feel good, but there is still time to claw some of that differential back. The hopes of the regular season crown may be slipping away a bit, but it’s certainly not yet an impossible ask. Sacramento Republic leads that race with 29 points to their name and FiveThirtyEight’s highest shot of winning it at 39%. LouCity does come in at 27% but MEM (21pts, 26%) and TBR (24pts, 24%) may have a slight edge in reality.
It’s hard to draw any major conclusions from a match like this one. The performance was good, but it was only a point earned under questionable circumstances. This team is still certainly in the mix for top of the East but will need to start stringing together results. Last week, I was hoping for seven points in three matches. Winning the next two would put them right there and give the fans some positive momentum to latch on to as we approach the midway point of the season.
Want to do a little more reading on LouCity? I suggest the following: