Match Recap – Sacramento Republic vs Louisville City – 04/01/2023
The home opener against El Paso was a match to forget. Not only due to the poor result, but also because their next match against Sacramento Republic was going to be a big early season test. The only other encounter last season against SAC went well, but they didn’t play their full-strength squad. Will LouCity bounce back from their failures at home and get back to their winning ways?
The returns of Brian Ownby (missed the last match due to suspension) and Josh Wynder (international duty) were welcomed by the fans of the boys in purple. A few new faces earned starts including Carlos Moguel, Jorge Gonzalez, Tyler Gibson, and Oscar Jimenez.
Both teams began the match with their foot on the gas. The ball was pushed from box to box but it was Sac Republic who got the first look on goal. A goal-bound header was batted away by Kyle Morton, but the follow-up strike was deflected in off the back of Manny Perez. LouCity was down 1-0 by the 5’ mark. SAC had another opportunity at 15’ but Josh Wynder put on an outstanding defensive effort to keep the attack off the ball and let it roll out of bounds. It surely would have been an on-target shot if hadn’t played it the way he did. A mixup with the Sacramento defenders at 22’ gave the ball back to the LouCity attack for their first real threatening opportunity, however, it was snuffed out. The counterattack was on, and SAC charged down the pitch. A cross into the box came in, but both Morton and Sean Totsch went for the stop. They collided and the loose ball was tapped in for the home team’s 2nd of the night. SAC struck again right at the 27’ mark. A perfect cross through traffic and a tap-in at the near post. LouCity was now down 3-0. Louisville created an opportunity off a set piece cross into SAC’s box at 35’. The ball was headed at an angle and was heading toward the net, but a defender got in front of it and clear the danger. Amadou Dia came in at 38’ for Josh, who had gone down before the set piece. The boy in purple were able to see out the half without any more damage inflicted.
To start the 2nd half, Cameron Lancaster (who had gone down towards the end of the 1st half) was taken out for Wilson Harris, who was making his 2023 debut after being sidelined the first few matches with injuries. Matiti Mushagalusa also came out for Ray Serrano. Louisville was looking more in the match in the 2nd half but still struggling to create serious goal-scoring opportunities. At 67’, SAC sent a rocket from outside the box. Morton, thankfully, was able to bat it out of bounds. At 70’, the home team rifled a shot off the underside of the crossbar. LouCity was lucky that didn’t make it goal 4. Unfortunately, a minute later, goal 4 did come. A chip over Morton to an attacker on the far post who tapped it in. Following that goal, Jorge Gonzalez was subbed in for Rasmus Thellufsen. At 74’, a SAC counter gave the home team a one-on-one opportunity that was thankfully snuffed out. Carlos Moguel exited the match at 85’ with Paolo DelPiccolo coming in for him. At 88’, SAC was inches away from another goal with a chipped shot that bounced off the far post. A minute later, the home team blasted another shot off the crossbar. At 90’, Sacramento earned a PK, which they converted to put the scoreline at 5-0.
By The Numbers
There are not many positives to pull from a match where it was 4.38 xG to 0.49. LouCity did have normal-ish possession numbers; 54%, accurate passing at 78%, and 63% of the opponent’s possession in their half. Ultimately, that really meant nothing. On the offensive side of things, the 0.49 xG is quite telling of how unproductive Louisville was with the ball. 11 total shots, but only one was on target. The rest were miles from on target. Some went out of the stadium. Not great. Defensively, Morados allowed 22 total shots with 10 on target and 7 big chances. SAC hit the woodwork 3 times! Those are crazy numbers, especially against a team that has generally been defensively sound. Honestly, we should count our blessing that only 5 made it in.
Player Of The Match
In a match this poor, it’s hard to highlight any individual efforts, but Manny Perez probably had the best outing of the gang. He passed at a solid 88% and created two chances. He had his usual moments of individual skill that would pose a bit of a challenge for any defender and didn’t have any overly egregious errors that I recall (I’m not rewatching that match to verify).
“You don’t lose that way and take any positives from it,” Coach Danny Cruz stated after the match. “I thought it was a really good week of training. They came out and did exactly what we talked about all week. I thought our pressure was not good enough. I thought our defending in the box was shocking, and I thought our quality on the ball wasn’t good enough.” He continued by stating that “there was nothing going into it where we felt like we weren’t going to win the game.”
There were unfortunate similarities to the last loss against El Paso; a good week of training, the opposition playing a style as expected, and poor individual efforts. The only differences are that the injury list was much smaller and the end result was much worse. As pointed out above, Louisville City had time on the ball and kept the opposition in their half more than our own. The opportunity was there, but it was a total failure on both sides of the ball. Incredibly little offensive production and far too many chances given to the opposition (which they took advantage of). xG isn’t the end-all-be-all by any means, but 0.49 for and 4.38 against can never be ok. Too few scoring opportunities were created and too much was conceded. There doesn’t appear to be a single individual to place blame on, but rather a problem with the whole. A lack of effort. No one stood out. The other team wanted it more. We know what these players are capable of. Just months ago, they were capping off a historic 2022 season in which they led or were near the top in all statistic categories with the record to back it up. Sure, we have a few guys on the wrong side of 30, but that isn’t the issue here. The level of effort we’ve seen from this 2023 group may have been enough to best OC and Monterey Bay but it was exploited against an El Paso team looking to get their season back on the rails and a Sacramento team who wants to make a statement that they should be in the early title conversation.
I have little doubt in my mind that Coach Cruz and his staff have made things abundantly clear (and will continue to do so). This is where our veteran presence in the locker room needs to intervene and help right the ship. They are a few days away from a match against a League One side that only has two competitive matches under their belt. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better opportunity for a moral boosting, “get things right”, thumping. But the mentality has to be there, otherwise it’s an early exit from the Open Cup with a testy Detroit City match awaiting them that weekend. That is not a match any of us what to enter on a three-game losing skid.
With all that said, keep your hands away from the panic button. I agree that these were historically bad losses, but take a step back and look at the big picture. We are talking about two games of a nearly 30-game season. There always have been ups and downs. Yes, this is a very deep “down” but in the grand scheme, it’s just a small fraction of the pie. There is plenty of time for the team to reassert their dominance. Let’s see how the next stretch of games play out before we get all doom and gloom about the season as a whole. We take our “L”, learn from it, and move on. The next two are at home, so let’s cheer loud to help the team’s confidence.
Want to do a little more reading on LouCity? I suggest the following:
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