Louisville City looked like it controlled play on the field in this match, but the numbers tell a different story. Soccer is one of those games, unlike baseball and (to an extent) basketball, where the numbers don’t always line up with the results. Even the best available statistical measures like xG don’t always equate to the scoreline.
This was one of those games. Louisville City didn’t pass all that well in this game – just 284 passes, the lowest number attempts on the season, for 68% total completed passes and just a hair over 50% in the attacking half of the field. City lost the possession and duels battles, too. In City’s recent wins over New York Red Bulls II and Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Team Purple had to clear the ball 16 and 18 times, respectively. City had 52 (!!!!) clearances on Saturday night against Ottawa.
One bright spot that I noticed during the game that bore out in the stats was City won most of their aerial duels – 52%. I’m guessing that was a focus in practice, and perhaps was one of the reasons Sean Reynolds got the nod at middle centerback. That number would have surprised anyone going into that game because Ottawa is a very big, tall, physical team that plays Route One soccer (the way God intended it). Just looking at the walkout before the game, their midfielders towered over our centerbacks, to say nothing of forwards Duba Dos Santos and Tucker Hume. But time and time again, when the Furries tried to send balls over the top of our defenders to their attackers, the City defense managed to take care of the danger.
Paco Craig deserves special mention on that front: he won five of his eight aerial battles, and had 13 clearances. Reynolds won four of six aerials, himself. The defense didn’t pass the ball great – no one other than maybe Ilja Ilic did. But they did a great job neutralizing Ottawa’s attack until the last few minutes of the game. While the Fury managed to keep City from moving the ball around at will, City managed to make the most of their chances, winning shots 16-11, shots on target 7-1, and of course goals scored.
Paolo DelPiccolo and Guy Abend also had very solid games in midfield. Paolo won 3 of 4 aerial balls, had a gorgeous assist on Ownby’s goal in the first half, along with seven clearances. Guy won five of his seven 1v1s and three fouls.
This isn’t a game you want to spend a ton of time going through from a numbers standpoint. It was a solid performance, and a very good three points against a very tough team. Later this week I’m going to take another look at Charleston and how on earth we managed to get a point last time City went down to the Holy City. Let’s hope the Purple Faithful don’t get scared like that again.