Next Match: Louisville City vs Saint Louis FC– 10/17/2020 – 2020 Playoffs
Back on September 30th, FiveThirtyEight had only given Saint Louis FC an 11% chance to make the playoffs. Their late-season battle for survival (and Indy Eleven’s collapse) delighted both fans and neutrals alike. Having not only made the playoffs but also made out of the first round with some last-minute drama against Hartford Athletic, they now return to Lynn Family Stadium. Who could have guessed that Louisville City would get one more Kings’ Cup match against Saint Louis? With an appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals on the line, Saint Louis will look to extend their Cinderella story while Louisville City will be focused on maintaining their unstoppable winning streak.
Since Lou City and STL both played in Group E during the regular season, they are no strangers to one another. The first Kings’ Cup match of 2020 took place in July at LFS. Coming off their home opener loss, City was not their usual killer selves. Louisville had about 60% possession and fired off 19 shots with none finding the net. Saint Louis not only withstood the barrage of shots but also found a goal of their own in the 52’ which would be the only goal of the match. The second encounter in August was a genuine test for Morados, who were coming into form. Away in Saint Louis, Louisville was uncharacteristically behind in most statistical categories. Despite Saint Louis’s control over the match, Lou City escaped with a point. Given how the previous two encounters went, one might be surprised at the 3-0 win that City served their rivals back in their new facility in mid-September. Like the first match, lots of possession and shots, but this time the boys in purple bagged some goals for their efforts. The fourth match between these two clubs in late-September was a more even affair. City won the possession battle; yet, it was STL who were blasting off the shots. Louisville weathered that storm and found a goal themselves to seal up the win.
While Louisville City fans have a lot to be confident about this Saint Louis team cannot be underestimated. They have put up good fights in each of the Kings’ Cup matches and are literally playing for their survival. They have had highs and lows in the season, so their team stats do not wow anyone; 11th for shots on target per match, 20th for goals per match, 14th for goals conceded, 21st for average possession, etc. Honestly, not much of interest there. They do, however, have a few players of interest worth monitoring. Tyler Blackwood is their club’s top goalscorer. He’s got six goals during the 2020 campaign, including the one goal scored in their first trip to Louisville, and one assist. Right behind him with five goals is Russell Cicerone. Todd Wharton has been an asset to his squad. The midfielder has a team-high of four assists with a player rating of 7.01. Fellow midfielder, Wal Fal, has arguably been a bigger force for his team. Fall’s accumulated two goals, three assists, and a player rating of 7.00. Keep in mind that at the end of this season, this whole Saint Louis squad will be free agents. It wouldn’t be impossible to see any of them wearing purple next season.
FiveThirtyEight is giving Louisville City the notable edge in this encounter, predicting that they have a 74% chance to win. They gave City the edge in all four of the previous encounters, but not by this big of a margin. Take it for what it’s worth. Saint Louis has had some bad days this season, but just enough good days to get them in this position. Although Louisville City looks somewhat unstoppable at the moment, the wheels could come off at any point. That’s just how the game is. City needs to take control of the match from the start and not let go. They cannot give STL anything. Lou City has never missed an Eastern Conference Finals, and I don’t think they plan on having that streak broken at home during a rivalry match. The fall weather is here, so make sure you dress appropriately if you are attending the match on Saturday! Vamos Morados!