Next Match: Louisville City vs Atlanta United 2 – 04/24/2021
After a long offseason, the USL regular season will return this weekend! Louisville City took advantage of the time allotted and scheduled several friendlies with MLS opposition to prepare for the 2021 campaign (which is all outlined here). City will kick things off home at Lynn Family Stadium against a less-than-exciting opponent, Atlanta United 2. While an MLS 2 side doesn’t scream “match of the year”, the eagerness of the fans to see the boys in purple back in action should overshadow that fact.
ATL2’s 2020 season was one to forget. They finished dead last in Group H with a 3-10-3 record, getting kicked around by the likes of Charleston Battery, the Miami FC, and Eastern Conference winners, the Tampa Bay Rowdies. They averaged 1.44 goals a match but conceded 2.06 with zero clean sheets. More numbers can be provided but you get the picture. They were not good (here are two resources if you do want to see more numbers: FootyStats and TablesLeague). The curious thing about this side is that they currently only have 11 players on their roster. Of those 11, only four were on the squad last season; Abdoulaye Diop, Amadou Diop, Bradley Kamdem, Phillip Goodrum. It’s also worth noting that Kamdem only played in one of their 16 matches. For all intents and purposes, it’s a brand new squad. And to top it off, their manager left for Aberdeen in the Scottish Premiership about a month ago. Yikes.
Their goalkeeper, Rocco Rios Novo, stands out as a player of note. On loan from Lanus, he has been a regular starter for Argentina with the U-15 and U-17 Youth National Teams at the 2019 U-17 World Cup and the U-17 South American Championships in 2019 where he tallied five clean sheets in eight matches. If you tuned in for ATL1’s first CONCACAF Champions League match, you would have seen him in action after he replaced Brad Guzan after receiving a red card. Since he flourished in that role, it looks like he has earned more opportunity to hang around the first team so it's entirely possible he will not even make the trip to Louisville.
Phillip Goodrum from their 2020 season is also a player of interest having two goals and a team-leading four assists to his name. His familiarity with the league may aid him compared to his peers. Chris Allen stands out simply because of his English upbringing and being part of the Sunderland system. Looking at non-official players, the DirtySouth has reported that 2021 MLS draftee Aiden McFadden and ATL1 player Efrain Morales have joined Atlanta Jr but they are not listed on the team’s roster (as of this writing).
FiveThirtyEight is giving Morados a 69% chance to win. Given everything listed above from the thin squad to the manager’s departure, that could be considered generous odds for Atlanta. Coach Hackworth has every right to expect a dominating win on Saturday. These two sides cannot be more opposite. Continuity vs discontinuity. Depth vs depthless. Prepared vs unprepared. That last one is an assumption, but it’s hard to prepare with the head coach leaving so close to the start of the season. Do you want to see goals? Do you want to see LouCity dominate? #LOUvATL2 could be the match for you!