Fans were hoping to be blown away by the new Louisville City squad in Saturday’s home opener. I don’t think they meant that in a literal sense.
High winds played a huge role in Louisville City’s 2-0 defeat to the Sugar Free Red Bulls on Saturday at Louisville Slugger Field, as gusts of up to sixty miles an hour caused balls to float backwards, crosses and long passes to take off, the WLKY news chopper to get out of the sky, and was so strong that it caused the New York players to keep falling over.
In fact, I think another Red Bull player just fell down.
All in all, it was a pretty poor match for the fans to sit through, and there wasn’t really much action in this one. It’s hard to blame the players or the coaching staff when the elements play as large of a factor as they did, but it did bring some glaring issues to light that hopefully can be addressed very soon. After the match, Coach James O’Connor called the players “naive” in regards to how they were trying to play the ball in the air much of the match. And he was right–New York often played the ball along the ground while the hosts were often hitting aerial balls that would take off and end up out of play or end up in a turnover.
Louisville City did have a great chance to take a 1-0 lead about twenty minutes in, when Kyle Smith was able to find Chandler Hoffman in the box with a cross. Hoffman held his man off, turned, and fired, but his marker was just able to block the shot that looked to be on target. That was really the only great scoring chance they had the entire match. Multiple times they got the ball in dangerous areas, but simply could not control it with the wind.
After allowing zero goals through the four preseason matches and the season opener, the defense was finally broken in the 28th minute. A shot from about 25 yards out forced Scotty Goodwin into a save, and the ball fell out to the side of the box. Junior Flemmings pounced on it, and it wasn’t clear whether Goodwin thought he was going to cross it, or if the curve of the shot simply took him by surprise, but the attacker was able to curl it inbetween Goodwin and the post to make it 1-0 for the visitors.
In the second half, it was more of the same–Louisville City unable to build an attack as their aerial balls were blown all over the place, and Red Bulls II simply looked to counter along the ground. They made it 2-0 in the 78th minute, as a counter-attack down the LCFC left side saw Flemmings turn provider. He had all day to find someone in the box, and placed it on Brandon Allen’s foot for the first-time finish.
Louisville City thought they had a consolation goal in stoppage time, when Cameron Lancaster sent a cross in from the right that the keeper seemingly held. Replay was inconclusive, but an argument could be made that he spilled the ball upon falling to the ground, and Aodhan Quinn pounced on it and poked it home. However, the goal was immediately disallowed by the referee to the loud howls of the Coopers.
For the Sugar Free lads from NYC, this win makes it three for three against Louisville City in two seasons. Last year saw them lose at home by the same scoreline of 2-0, and then the boys in purple fell 3-2 on the road after letting a 2-1 halftime lead slip in the final twenty minutes of the match.
(We interrupt this article to bring you breaking news: Another Red Bulls II player has gone down in agonizing pain. We will bring you more information when it bec….oh, wait, he’s back up and running again. We now return you to your regularly scheduled post.)
One of the glaring problems over the first two matches has been the inability to create many chances, either through the middle or on the wings. So far, only Kadeem Dacres (who was injured and did not make the team sheet) has been able to take anybody on and break them down, one v one. Also, the glaring lack of offensive support from the right side of the pitch—after what we saw from Bryan Burke last year—has compounded issues. Furthermore, without MagRam in the middle of the pitch, there has not been much link-up play between the holding midfielders and the forwards, allowing teams to sit back and hit on the break.
The other major problem has been on corner kicks. Granted, today’s corners were going to go anywhere but where they were aimed due to the wind, but that does not change the fact that with the style of play we have seen under Coach O’Connor, there will be plenty of corners to be taken. These need to be taken more clinically and so far this season, few if any chances have been created from them unless Enrique Montano is taking them.
While his starting spot has been taken by the energetic Jonghyun Son, Montano is not a defender by trade—he was a midfielder who led his team in shots his junior season at San Jose State. Perhaps deploying him in the midfield could solve both of these glaring problems in one go? No matter what happens, it is clear the importance that Dacres and Rasmussen hold in this team’s success. It is in the club’s best interest to have them healthy and back on the pitch as quickly as possible. Despite the rough day, once again the trio of Goodwin, Sean Reynolds, and Son were bright spots in a drab match. All three played well and came up with key plays to keep the final score from being worse than it was.
At the end of the day, it was a forgettable day that the club will hopefully bounce back from. The players struggled, the cameramen were terrible (and that’s putting it lightly), the weather sucked, and the officials were not very good at controlling the theatrics of the Red Bulls. Luckily for Louisville City, they will get to play at home again this weekend, as they host Orlando City B on Saturday, April 9th. A win would do wonders for the team before they head up I-71 to take on Toyota John and the (insert sponsor here) FC Cincinnati team for the first of three matches against the new rivals.