Match Recap – San Antonio FC vs Louisville City – 11/13/2022 - 2022 USL Final
For the fourth time in eight years, Louisville City found themselves in the USL Championship Finals. It took two nail-biters, but the squad got the job done and earned the right to compete for the trophy they set out to win at the start of the season. San Antonio, the other number-one seed, came out unscathed from the West and played host to the boys in purple. Two juggernauts in the USL who had yet to face one another would be the final match of the year with the title on the line.
Roster health has very much been a problem for LouCity’s playoff run and the final was no exception. Several players were out leading up to this match, including the Golden Glove winner, Kyle Morton. Others, like Cameron Lancaster and Brian Ownby, have been slowly working their way back to 100%. To add to the list, Wilson Harris picked up a knock in the last match and was no longer fully fit. With Harris having led the line most of the season because of Cam’s injury, this match would see a reversal of that to start the match. Matiti Mushagalusa and Ray Serrano accompanied him up top. Corben Bone’s red in the Tampa match also had lineup repercussions, likely serving as a factor to start the match with a 3-4-3 setup. Josh Wynder, Wes Charpie, and Sean Totsch held the back line with Amadou Dia and Manny Perez to Tyler Gibson and Paolo DelPiccolo’s left and right.
A penalty kick for San Antonio within two minutes was about as disastrous of a start as Louisville fans could have feared. Danny Faundez came off his line to try to get the ball from a San Antonio attacker, but took him out and gave the referee a fairly easy call. Faundez was, however, bailed out by the following atrocious attempt that was nowhere near close to the net. It was SA again on the attack at 16’ with a quick counter down the pitch resulting in a shot from outside the box that was blasted into the far post. Louisville was quite fortuitous to have the scoreline still 0-0 by the twenty-minute mark. SA was clearly the stronger team throughout the first half and Louisville managed to hold them off up until added time. SA took a corner kick that flew to the far post. Charpie jumped up to challenge the man he was marking for the header. He won that challenge, however; the ball bounced off his head into his arm for the second SA PK. A very unlucky break for Wes and LouCity. SA didn’t let this one go to waste and buried the shot to gain the lead entering halftime.
Brian Ownby entered the match for Josh Wynder to start the second half. He was an instant impact and quickly found LouCity’s best look up until that point. At 49’, a cross to the top center of the box bobbled around City attackers and SA defenders before Ownby gained control and fired off a low shot that hit the post. Signs of life for the LouCity attack. San Antonio was back on the offensive at 54’ with a quick counter ending in an angled shot that required a quick reflexive stop from Faundez to keep out of the net. Unfortunately, the home team found the net only ten minutes later. A free kick sent the ball to the far edge of the box where it was headed back centrally and headed again perfectly over Faundez into the top right corner. Nothing the GK could have done. A perfectly placed header to put SA up 2-0. Following the second goal, Harris, Elijah Wynder, and Carlos Moguel came into the match for Cam, PDP, and Tyler Gibson. Despite the shakeup on Louisville’s end, SA kept the positive momentum and scored their third at 70’. It was an absolutely beautiful counter-offensive down the pitch, ending with a well-placed shot past Faundez. LouCity found themselves on the wrong end of the highlight reel. Everything was going right for the hosts and wrong for the boys in purple. Harris tested the SA keeper with a free-kick shot at the box’s edge at 77’ but he kept it out. Ownby, however, did find the net only a minute later. Farr came off his line for a crossed ball into the box but didn’t secure it. It fell to Ownby, who hit a fantastic strike over the makeshift wall on the goal line trying to accommodate for their goalie’s absence. A glimmer of hope for the KY side. Following the goal, Napo Matsoso entered the match for Ray Serrano. That goal may have provided a flicker of optimism, but it was quickly snuffed out as SA regained control over the match as they had for most of the time leading up to that point. They were able to see out the remainder of the match without serious threat. When the final whistle blew, LouCity’s magical playoff run had come to an end. They have enough in the tank to make it to the finals, but not enough to triumph over San Antonio.
By The Numbers
Possession-wise, this was a standard match for both teams. LouCity dominated while San Antonio had little. Dominated may not exactly be the right word, however, as SA did a lot with their 35% possession. They led in shots, created four big chances, and accumulated an expected goal (xG) value of 2.33. LouCity uncharacteristically had 0.43 xG with no big chances. It wasn’t Louisville night, and it showed on the eye test and in the numbers.
Player Of The Match
Brian Ownby managed to do what the others couldn’t and that was putting one past Jordan Farr. He did so on limited minutes, which makes you wonder what would have been if he could have gone all 90 but the reality was he couldn’t. It may have come a bit too late to make a difference, but it was a consolation prize from an otherwise forgettable night on the pitch.
You win some and you lose some. Sure, we can complain about injuries, but SA was clearly the better team and deservedly won. LouCity not only couldn’t “crack the code” on the Texas team, but they didn’t even get exactly close. “We played their style of soccer and not ours. When that happens, that’s what they’re going to do. They’re going to come out on top.” PDP stated. Despite the best efforts of the boys in purple, San Antonio controlled the match from start to finish. It’s a tough pill to swallow but Morados wasn’t the best team in the league but rather the 2nd best. It is what it is.
“I’m extremely proud of this group of men and what they’ve done this season,” Coach Danny Cruz said post-match. “The support tonight from our fans was incredible given the distance to travel. Obviously really disappointed, but still a very proud manager with what this group accomplished this year.” It was an unfortunate way to have such a great season end, but there are so many positives that can be taken away from this year beyond the final match. Record points, record attendance, record clean sheets, etc. Breaking records at a club as successful as Louisville City is no easy feat, either. Between the fantastic regular season and the gritty and thrilling playoff wins, it was a year to remember for LouCity fans. The sting of coming so close to a third star may take a bit to fully go away, but the positives of the 2022 season should help you get back to a more positive mindset.
With the offseason underway, it’s time for the players and staff to get a little R&R and begin preparations for the 2023 campaign. The offseason is a unique kind of fun and I, for one, am excited to see how things start to pan out for the next iteration of Louisville City.
Before ending this piece, I want to take a moment to say thank you. My writing on the club has been a fun, creative outlet and a way for me to engage with the Louisville City community. I appreciate everyone who has taken some time to check out my work, stopped to chat at matches, or interacted with me on social media. It’s been a pleasure and has made this year that much more fun. I’d like to also thank the players and staff for all their hard work this season. You made the city proud. I also can’t forget those who work in more behind-the-scenes capacities at the club for putting up with me and helping with miscellaneous requests. You know who you are. Thank you, you rock.
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