Match Recap – Pittsburgh Riverhounds vs Louisville City – 07/01/2023
Louisville City’s season has not totally gone to plan but a win over Las Vegas gave them positive momentum heading into a big match at Pittsburgh. Bob Lilley and the Riverhounds have not forgotten their playoff exit at Lynn Family Stadium last season and were looking for a bit of revenge. Things seemed to be in their favor. They had home field for this match and they hold the top spot in the Eastern Conference with an impressive run of nine matches unbeaten. Would it be PIT claiming all three points or could LOU scrape out their 7th win all time against the Riverhounds in 14 meetings?
Elijah Wynder was back in the mix after a short injury absence accompanied by starts from Oscar Jimenez and Paolo DelPiccolo. Matiti Mushagalusa remained in the eleven after bagging goals in both the Kaiserslautern and Las Vegas matches. Niall McCabe, who has been working back from injury, was available from the bench along with Manny Perez.
By The Numbers
The first half may have been a slight advantage for the Riverhounds, but by the end, it looked to be a fairly even affair. PIT had a nominal lead in expected goals (xG) but the boys in purple found one more shot than the home team along with the creation of two big chances (zero for Pittsburgh). Passing was somewhat poor for both teams, but LOU did notably better (67% to 59%).
Player Of The Match
Elijah Wynder had a solid match. Chances are hard to come by against such a defensively-oriented team like the Riverhounds but between his give-me to Matiti in the first half and the non-goal debacle in the second, he was a bright light in an area Louisville has needed some help. Play like that can earn a player minutes. Hope he keeps it up.
It was a hard-fought draw on the road for LouCity, but much like the match in Phoenix, officiating decisions became one of the major talking points. “I think there’s a little frustration from me,” Coach Danny Cruz commented after the match. “I’ve been told it’s a clear goal, and it seems like those calls are going against us at the moment. My hope is that turns around.” Paolo DelPiccolo echoed Coach Cruz’s frustration. “I thought we weren’t rewarded like we should have been.”
Thankfully, the team isn’t letting the poor luck on calls distract them from controlling what they can control. “There’s also a lot of critical moments — the pass before the pass that we missed that we can’t miss,” PDP stated. “We probably didn’t get enough shots on target. We probably could have had more opportunities on set pieces.” Coach Cruz was largely happy with what his squad did on the pitch. “They brought everything we asked of them from a game plan standpoint. I felt we did a really good job creating opportunities. We had two, three really big chances missed.” Creation and conversion remain troublesome. However, it certainly was not their worst outing, especially given the quality of the opposition. “We need to make sure we get everybody healthy. That’s been a big piece of this season, and I think that will play a role in our improvement in the final third. But I do believe that if we continue to stay strong defensively and have more quality in front of goal that we’re going to put ourselves in a good spot come the end of the season.”
While it was only a point earned for Louisville, it was also two points denied for PIT, keeping their Eastern Conference foes within striking distance. LouCity is only five points from 1st place Charleston Battery and 2nd place Pittsburgh. Louisville has two games in hand on the Battery and one on PIT. Converting those games in hand into wins would put LOU in a great spot to get themselves back into the mix for the top of the East. Even with the team’s offensive woes, they are still very much in the mix for home playoff positioning. With the dynamic playmaker, Brian Ownby expected to be out for a little bit, other creators like Elijah and Dylan Mares will need to step up to help propel LouCity into the table standing that they know they are capable of. Four of the next five matches are at home, so time to take advantage of that edge.
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