I was away at a wedding all weekend so I actually haven’t even seen film of the match yet. Given the way the numbers look, I don’t think I want to. Louisville City turned in what was easily their worst passing performance of the season Saturday on the City Island. 73.8% overall, which is just mediocre, but 59.5% in the opposing half, which is…quite bad. Frankly, that’s the only number you really need to look at to figure out why City lost over the weekend.
The silly part is, Harrisburg didn’t exactly play well, either: 74% passing, 62% in the opposition half, less than 400 pass attempts, losing the possession and duels battles. They just played better than Louisville City. City gave up eleven shots on goal, which is a lot for this team this season. Eight of those shots were taken in the box, and four were on frame. Team Purple themselves only had three shots on goal the entire match, and just one in the second half.
Back to passing. No one had a good passing game. Guy Abend was just under 70% in the opposing half, while Paolo DelPiccolo was under 55%. When your job as a central mid is not to make seeing-eye passes, but instead to get it to the wingbacks who take it up the field, hitting a low percentage is not a good thing. Guy and Paolo did pretty well in 1v1 situations in this game, but the sheer number of them, 15, should tell us a little more about why City passed so poorly.
One of the “weak points” of this version of the 3-4-3 is that it can leave the central defending midfield stranded. If the wingbacks are supposed to stay wide and the three forwards play high up the field, the two central midfielders can be overwhelmed if the opposition plays four or five midfielders. Those guys’ job is to disrupt horizontal passing lanes and generally make the LouCity central midfielders miserable, which they did. O’Connor (I think) responded to this by subbing Richard Ballard in for Sean Totsch in the second half and playing with a more traditional four-man back line and giving Guy and Paolo some more support. However, that essentially meant that City had to try and play the ball through the middle of the field, and Harrisburg was more than happy to eat that up all day.
Offensively, Brian Ownby and Cam Lancaster had miserable days – 39% and 25% OP half passing, respectively. No one of the attacking three had more than 25 passes the entire game. Cam won six of eight duels, which is good, but when you win a duel and then still lose the ball or don’t get a shot off (just one for the game), it is frustrating. George Davis IV had the best match of the three, creating three scoring chances and winning six of his ten duels, but he only had 18 passes in 90 minutes. That’s not good.
This is a disappointing result to be sure, away or not. City has now dropped points to the two worst teams in the league. The Elsie PR machine is categorizing this result as a one-off and the product of an unfocused team. I’ll buy that for now, but keep an eye out this coming weekend to see if the “overwhelm the central mids” tactic works for Ottawa, or if James O’Connor & Co. can adjust. Let’s go.