Next Match: Louisville City vs San Diego Loyal – 05/22/2021
With one win, one draw, and coming off their second week off this season, Louisville City is back in action on Saturday night in a rather unique encounter. Hailing from the Western Conference, the San Diego Loyal SC will make the long trip to Louisville. This will be the first encounter between LouCity and the Landon Donovan-coached team.
The Loyal, now in their second season, have not had a successful start in 2021. They have taken part in three matches with all three ending in a loss. While the first loss against Phoenix Rising may have not been too shocking, the following losses to Rio Grande Valley FC and Tacoma Defiance were a bit of a surprise. Historically, Rio Grande and Tacoma have not been top performers but to their credit, their 2021 seasons have started off well. Even factoring in all of their matches have been on the road, it’s hard to shrug off a -8 goal differential in so few matches.
The early struggles for San Diego appear to be impacting the squad in all phases. They have averaged 0.67 goals per game and are averaging 2.67 goals conceded with 0.83 expected goals per match and 1.21 expected goals against per match. They are having a hard time finding the net (two goals on 35 shots) or stop opposition chances (48 shots against, 3rd highest in the league). Even the fact that they have been superior in the possession battle (averaging 53% possession) has not aided them. They appear to keep the matches in control early before the wheels come off. The 4-1 loss to PHX does skew things a bit, but the trend has continued with their other matches. It’s far too early to write them off but they direly need some positives.
There are several players of interest on the San Diego Loyal roster, including Jack Blake, Jack Metcalf, and Thomas Vancaeyezeele. Blake was listed as USLTactics’ player to watch. Known for his assists and forward passes, he is currently tied for 5th in the league for crosses. He has also accumulated the second most shots on his team with seven. Louisville fans may remember him as part of the 2019 Real Monarchs team that dashed our dreams in the finals of the “triple crown.” Metcalf is currently tied for 5th in the USL for chances created with seven. While not historically much of a goal-scoring threat, he has gotten one of his team’s two goals. Vancaeyezeele is a standout defensive presence who was most recently with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. Last season, the 26-year-old French player had 36 clearances with an 82.1% tackle success rate.
FiveThirtyEight has wisely given Morados a 50% chance to grab all three points and SD Loyal only a 23% chance to win. Despite the slow start, the Loyal should not be underestimated. They have some quality pieces on their roster and are still projected with a 51% chance to make the playoffs. Both Vancaeyezeele and Blake have been part of squads that have ended City’s season, so they know what it takes to bring down the purple juggernaut. Perhaps the atmosphere at Lynn Family Stadium can be a difference-maker… be sure to cheer loud! Cya all at the match! Vamos Morados!
Here is a picture of a young Jonathan Gomez and SD’s coach, Landon Donovan! There are all sorts of fun pictures and info on TheGomezWay.