Louisville City has left the comfort of the stadium of lights for a Friday road match at Children’s Mercy Park against Sporting Kansas City 2. With the 3-3 draw against Indy still fresh in their heads, the boys in purple were looking to get back on track. Meanwhile, SKC was looking to begin a winning streak of their own and begin the slow climb from the depths of the Central Division table. The Swope Park Rangers matches have often been exciting encounters (the 2017 USL Final and the “Farewell To Slugger” match to name a few) and this one was no different.
Louisville City Lineup
The Coach Danny Cruz era has kept fans and foes on their toes regarding the lineup and formation. Alexis Souahy and Antoine Hoppenot made their return to the starting lineup as well as Parker Siegfried’s debut in goal. While the formation was listed as a 3-5-2, it ended up looking more like the traditional 4-3-3.
LouCity did not waste any time imposing their will upon the match. It only took Kyle Greig five minutes to find the back of the net! Brian Ownby adeptly intercepted an errant pass and quickly got the ball to Corben Bone. Bone drove the ball down the side of the pitch and passed it across goal to Greig who easily slotted it home.
This lead, unfortunately, did not last. At 13’, a cross into City’s box was headed to the top corner of the near post. Spotty man-marking in the box and a tough ask for Siegfried to stop that one resulting in a 1-1 match. The rest of the first half was a bit of a slog and described as “frustrating” by Coach Cruz post-match. Ownby got a chip attempt towards the end of the half, but it was off target. Lots of possession by the visiting team but few quality chances to show for it.
This is where things got exciting. At 57’, Bone got the ball to Ownby at the top of the box who proceeded to execute a fantastic cut to throw off a defender before nailing a mesmerizing, curling shot into the net. A truly outstanding goal that is sure to stick on his personal highlight reel.
City wasn’t done yet. Seconds later, a breakaway Hoppenot dished the ball over to an open Jonathan Gomez whose shot was barely saved by the outstretched hand of the Sporting KC keeper. Undeterred, LouCity found their third shortly after that sequence. Ownby drove the ball to the end line before crossing the ball across the net to a waiting Alexis Souhay who’s less-than-clean strike bounced in past the keeper whose momentum was taking him the wrong way.
Looking for an answer, KC hammered off a goal-bound shot at 61’ that was body blocked by Souhay. A few minutes later, Louisville made their first substitution taking off Hoppenot for the Irishman, Niall McCabe. Still hungry for more, a connection between Gomez and Greig made goal number four happen at 67’. JoGo, using his patent-pending drive down the sideline and run along the end line, got the ball across the net to Greig who crouched to head it into the exposed goal.
Napo Matsoso entered the match at 72’, relieving Bone who racked up two assists on the night. At 80’, SKC2 rained on LouCity’s parade a bit by scoring in the mixer off a free kick taking the scoreline to 4-2. Immediately following that sequence, Jimmy McLaughlin and George Davis IV entered the pitch for Paolo DelPiccolo and Ownby. In the dying minutes of the match, Swope was still fighting and sent an angled shot towards goal that was secured by a diving Parker. When the final whistle blew, City was declared the victor.
By The Numbers
Scoring four on an xG of 1.83 is something I will never be upset about. Two goals against with an xG of 0.82, however, is less than ideal. The on-target shots to shots ratio was better than it has been. Beat out Sporting KC2 on possession, chances, passing, etc. The usuals we tend to win out on. Many players had great outings. Bone, for example, was rated 8.4 with two assists and five created chances. JoGo was rated 8.3 with an assist and nine won duals. Wes Charpie’s only positive number was 91% successful passes on 31 accurate passes but he kept the goal-scoring threat Enoch Mushaglusa quiet. Can’t write that off.
All and all, it was the kind of match the team needed to move on from the disappointment of a LIPAFC draw. Four goals is a great showing, especially with star striker Cameron Lancaster sidelined with a concussion. Two goals for Greig proved that we have starting quality depth in multiple players in the striker role. While the first half was alright, the second half is when things clicked. “At halftime, got into the group a little bit. Really proud of the way they came out in the second half.” Coach Cruz stated after the win. Ownby added, “Obviously, it was not a strong first half. But we came out fine after a talk with Danny at halftime. That really changed our performance, mentality, and attitude going into the second half.” Speaking of Ownby, he is on quite the tear recently. Two superb games back to back. “When you feel the confidence, you feel more comfortable on the ball.” Let’s not forget to rave on JoGo. The young stud yet again showcased his offensive prowess from a defensive role. He set up that fourth goal and had very nearly found one of his own. We are quite lucky to have him. So, overall where does this team stand in relation to their competition? "I said to that group as early as today, we have the quality in the locker room to be at the top of the table throughout the season," said Coach Cruz. "The expectation from me and from them is that we are.” You love to hear the bar set that high. Nothing less than the best in Louisville!
***Shameless plug time***
If you have not done so already, check out my recent piece on the academy and injection of youth the first team could see sooner than later. Also, be sure to check out the Vamos Morados Podcast! Yep, you read that right! I’m in the podcasting game now along with Zach Allen-Kelly. Episode 1 is out now for your consumption and features Jonathan Gomez!