by: Cody Ruth
Well, I have to say that even our loudest detractors couldn’t have envisioned the start to the 2019 season we have experienced. Currently, we are 6th in the East, surrounded by teams with a game in hand. However, it’s still early in the season, and the Boys in Purple have plenty of time to find their rhythm.
We opened the season with two games on the road, with the first being against North Carolina FC. NCFC finished right outside the playoffs last year, and cleaned house in the off-season. With a new coach in former Chicago Fire and USMNT coach Dave Sarachan, and a new-look team, there was very little of a track record to review for strengths and weaknesses. They apparently had plenty of tape on us, as they proceeded to shellac us 4-1. Perfectly willing to concede possession and hit us on the counter, they did so time and again, leaving Keeper Tim Dobrowolski standing alone to face impossible shots. This will forebode many, many teams using the tactic of “parking the bus” and counter-attacking with pace for the remainder of the year. It is worth noting that the first Louisville City goal of the year was taken by Trinity High product Sunny Jane.
Our second away game was not so grim as we squared off against Atlanta United 2. Though it was a bit of a departure from our usual style of play, the heatmap from the first half shows that we controlled the lion’s share of possession right at midfield. Despite their efforts, ATLUTD2 passed the ball amongst themselves, trying to draw us out of position. The second half looked more akin to our style of play, with a stronger push into the attacking half, seemingly taking advantage of a team caught unaware and stuck on the rear foot. We finally cracked the nut in the 78th minute from a Thiam header. Ceding 58% of possession is not common in our history, but It seemed to have potential as a “new look” for us.
We finally had a home fixture in the third game of the season against expansion side Hartford Athletic. Currently occupying the space at the bottom of the table left by departing team Toronto FC 2, they still managed to shock us in the 6th minute with a deep cross behind our defense to take the lead. We fought right back with a goal from Luke Spencer in the 14th minute and closed out our scoring by forcing Hartford into an own goal triggered by Brian Ownby. This was the first game where LCFC started to look like themselves again. However, against the run of play we let in a late goal, but still held on for a 2-1 victory.
Our final game of the month was against another expansion team, Birmingham Legion FC. By most everything but the score line, this was a game handily dominated by Los Morados. But in the end, the leaky sieve of the back line buried us. The game scoring was opened by Magnus in the half-hour mark, but within seven minutes we were down 1-2 against a team that had been held scoreless for 211 minutes of play this season. Abdou Thiam coerced an own goal to draw level in the second half, before Legion put the game to bed six minutes later.
April is going to be a real test as the next game up is the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. Their style of play is nothing more than a mastery of the tactics that other sides have inflicted on us so often this season. The following week is away to the Tampa Bay Rowdies who are fulfilling the promise of high-level play that they brought with them into the league in 2017. The month ends with home games against Ottawa Fury and Memphis 901. Frankly, I’ll be pleased if we make 7 points out of 12 possible on the month. I feel that the ship will right itself sooner rather than later, but the next two games are going to be hard fought with the coaching staff trying to plug the holes in a defense that is averaging two goals against per game.
The season is still young, and there is no reason to lose hope yet.