You might recall that this is the first season the USL has limited teams to three substitutions per match as opposed to five. One thing about that rule change that I liked is that it makes it easier to chart statistics, as there were fewer players to track and more data to use to evaluate starters.
However, this NYRB2 game, and several others before it, was very much affected by the coaches’ substitution patterns. Luke Spencer could probably start every match for LouCity, but he’s scored twice in two games coming on as a sub. If there’s one thing we know about James O’Connor, it’s that he is in an unending war with the sun. If there’s another thing we know, it’s that he usually follows the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” adage with players and lineups. That’s all a long way of saying we can probably expect to see more of Luke off the bench than in the starting lineup.
And there are some good reasons for it. Cam Lancaster didn’t score in this match, but his running and pressure on the Baby Bulls’ back line softened them up enough that Luke coasted through it on his 70th minute header off a corner. Cam didn’t see a lot of the ball in this game, either, but he kept the Red Bulls defense busy with fourteen duels, winning half of them. Once Spencer hit the field, he was able to get in much more dangerous areas, with five touches in the New York penalty area in his twenty minutes, despite LouCity playing with the lead.
The go-ahead goal aside, this was a predictably sloppy game. New York’s attackers did a great job putting City defenders on skates, but couldn’t do anything with the ball after beating their first man. City did a great job getting behind the ball when New York had it, and then pressing the attack on turnovers. It was a lot like the first match up in Montclair, in that sense.
From a numbers perspective, it was a very even game. Neither team passed the ball very well – both in the fifties for passing in the opposing half. Louisville surprisingly won more duels, but not by a wide margin. Both teams were mostly equal in pass attempts, shots, and tackles. One nice number, though, was that City had eight attempts on target to New York’s four.
Individually, I didn’t think Tarek Morad had a great game, as it seemed like his passing wasn’t very accurate. The stats prove me wrong, though, as he was 80% on the game. Our center midfielders were under duress all match, partly because of a numbers disadvantage (3 is usually more than 2). That said, Paolo created three scoring chances and hit five successful crosses. It was very much bend-don’t-break for those two, and I think they did pretty well. Brian Ownby had another very, very good shift, and Niall McCabe had his second very solid performance in a row himself. Both created two chances apiece.
This STATCAP is admittedly light on the stats because there’s not a lot you can glean from the numbers in this match. I don’t think that’s a bad thing against a team as talented as NYRB. The most important number is three points, anyway.