As you might imagine, I hate writing about losses, especially those of the home variety. Thus, I’ll try to keep this brief. Louisville City entered tonight’s match against Pittsburgh without a few of its best XI, including Kadeem Dacres, who didn’t even make the bench for the game due to an undisclosed injury he picked up in the friendly on Tuesday against Orlando City, and without Conor Shanosky, whose face got broken by Juan Guzman last week against Charleston. That said, it was a lineup that held up for most of the first half against a determined Riverhounds team until Bryan Burke committed a foul in City’s penalty area in the 45th minute. Burke, who was more or less beaten in a 1v1 by Boris Zivanovic, pulled on Zivanovic’s jersey, Zivanovic fell down, and the ref pointed to the spot. It was a very soft foul, but it was a foul, and Rob Vincent converted the ensuing penalty to leave City down 0-1 going into the half.
City made just one sub at half, putting on Ilija Ilic for Niall McCabe, and later subbed off Enrique Montano and Bryan Burke for Adam West and a masked Conor Shanosky. Once Montano and Burke were subbed, though, Louisville lost all of its width and played right into the center of Pittsburgh’s defense, which was more than happy to bunch up and slow down the purple attack completely. City got a couple decent scoring opportunities, but a re-jiggered front line just didn’t click and the chances didn’t connect when they might have. After 4 minutes of stoppage time, the final whistle blew and the match was over, marking Louisville’s 5th loss of the season, and its third at Slugger Field.
I won’t blame the entirety of this loss on playing a meaningless midweek friendly against Orlando City where most of our best team played most of the game, but I’ll blame at least part of it on that. This team struggles off of short rest, and it showed. Pittsburgh won all kinds of tackles and duels, and while they only managed four shots on the night to City’s ten, three were on goal, even if one was a penalty. City managed just one shot on goal all night. This result makes me a little nervous looking forward to the match next Wednesday against Harrisburg, a team in a very similar situation to Pittsburgh in that their playoff lives are on the line and they’ll throw the kitchen sink at the Royals to try and get a result. James O’Connor has his work cut out for him over the next three or four days.