Match Recap: Saint Louis FC vs Louisville City - 09/26/2020
All good things must come to an end, unfortunately. With Saint Louis closing up shop at the end of the season, this match would be the last chapter in the Kings’ Cup saga. It was a rivalry dominated by Lou City. Saint Louis had only won two times in the 15 total matches played between the clubs since 2015. Besides the sentimental and the fan-created cup, both teams were playing for the postseason. Louisville was almost guaranteed first in the group. Getting a win would help to seal that. Meanwhile, Saint Louis needed every point to keep themselves in the picture for second place. Having never made it to the post-season, this was their last opportunity. They were a team backed in a corner, fighting for their lives.
Despite the somewhat comfort of the team’s place in the playoff picture, Louisville City opted to leave nothing to chance. Sticking with the regulars while the team is still going strong was the best option. STL has proven to be a tough opponent this season and has shown that they are worthy of respect. The team sheet included Abdou Mbacke Thiam. His appearances earlier in the campaign did not go so well, but he is a player I like. Happy to see him poised to earn back some minutes in the squad.
Saint Louis’s desperation showed in their play during this match. It had many fouls and physical plays. Lou City was contributors to the 19 total fouls on the match as well. An early yellow card came out at 13’ for Brian Ownby for a poor challenge. Only a minute later, Saint Louis set up a goal coming from a set-piece right outside the box, but it was called offsides. At 21’, they had yet another goal dismissed because of an offsides call. Early on, City was playing off the back foot reminiscent of the previous away encounter against the squad. At 28’, Ownby made a gorgeous right-footed shot outside of the box that went off the woodwork. The strike was very similar to the goal that he had against Memphis 901. Saint Louis made the Louisville City fans nervous yet again at 41’ when Wal Fall headed the ball off the right post from a corner kick. They were getting too many opportunities for comfort. Morados got themselves a little breathing room only a few minutes later. Oscar Jimenez sent a wonderfully placed corner kick near the far post, which was put in the net by the head of Speedy Williams, making the score 1-0 right before the half. Lou City was fortunate to enter the locker room with the lead.
Coming into the second half, Coach Hackworth put Wes Charpie into the match for Pat McMahon. At 52’ it was another close moment. The headed ball on the right side of the net was blocked by Ben Lundt, but it nearly still went in the goal off the block. It had bounce off the sidebar. There was a lot of protest from the STL players about the ball crossing the line, but they still deemed it no goal. Following that save, Ownby called it a night and was relieved by Abdou. Saint Louis, anxious to get something from the match, made some substitutes at 63’ and 75’. City, who was keeping the scoreline in their favor, made some moves of their own later in the match to help preserve the lead. They deployed Akil Watts for Corben Bone at 78’ and Luke Spencer for Cameron Lancaster at 88’. And with those subs, the final Kings’ Cup installment came to a close with Lou City taking the last victory.
It was not Louisville’s prettiest matchup, but they got the job done once again. Speedy earned himself Man of the Match honors with his one goal, 88% pass success rate, and player rating of 8.3. Antoine Hoppenot also had himself a decent outing with the most completed dribbles of all players with six and the most won duels with ten. Cam, uncharacteristically, had a rough night at the office with only two off-target shots, the most lost possessions with five, and a low player rating of 5.8. It happens. Its matches like these where other parts of the roster need to step up (which they did). Louisville City won the possession battle with 55% but Saint Louis did out-shoot City 16 to 12. STL did also create more chances than Lou City with Saint Louis creating 14 to City’s 8.
With that win, City has kept their momentum rolling and Saint Louis’s playoff opportunity has gotten much more unlikely. They will need all three points in their next match and help from elsewhere for that still to be a possibility. Never say never, but it looks like second is Indy’s to lose. Looking at the odds on FiveThirtyEight, they are very high on the squad and for good reason. City now has the second-highest probability to not only make the final, but to also win it. This team is doing a lot of things right at the moment. It’ll be Coach Hackworth’s job to keep the team from getting too pompous and to focus one match at a time. Gotta keep that momentum alive!
By the way, if you have not heard, the Coopers have released a charity kit. All of the proceeds will be going to a local charity called La Casita Center. Make sure you preorder your kit for $49 before 10/15/2020!