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STATCAP: Pittsburgh Riverhounds; Plan B is now Plan A

James O’Connor rode the hot hand with his three-man defensive setup and his team was rewarded with another three points last Saturday at home against Pittsburgh. I don’t want to make too much of the tactical switch, but de-cluttering the midfield has worked wonders for this team’s passing. LouCity isn’t going to win a lot of individual battles against the likes of NYRB2, but they certainly owned the Riverhouds in this last outing.

You’ll recall that City lost the possession battle against the Baby Bulls by a fairly significant margin. That didn’t matter much because they were able to absorb pressure defensively and then counter attack into the acres of space behind New York’s defensive midfield.

This game was much different than that. Louisville City turned in its best passing performance at home of the season completing 83% of their 558 attempts, and owned a 60-40 possession advantage to boot. That’s over 100 more pass attempts than City’s average at home for the season.

Team Purple had 22 shots, though just seven were on target. Converting 3 of 7 on frame is pretty good. The Riverhounds had just six shots the whole game, and only one on target, which Greg Ranjitsingh deftly picked out of the air off a set play. Surprisingly, Louisville City won the battle of aerial duels in this match, too – 80-20. That’s not something you ever see at this level, especially given how big some of the Hounds central defenders are. Also, looking at the touchmap, it’s insane how many more touches City had in the opposition 18 yard box compared to Pittsburgh – 34 to 10 by my count.

Individually, Tarek Morad had another sterling game, completing 95% of his 63 passes. Morad has thrived in this new setup, and this is probably his best ever season in purple. Craig notably had eight clearances in the match, and has been doing a great job playing in the middle of that back three when he has to press up to distribute the ball or intercept oncoming forwards.

The wingers had a great game, too, especially on offense. Kyle and Oscar created seven scoring chances between them (2 for Smith and 5 for Oscar), and both had excellent passing games as well. Paolo DelPiccolo and Guy Abend ably fulfilled their roles in the center of midfield and passed for a very high percentage, both over 85%. Abend, interestingly, had nearly 30 more pass attempts than Paolo did. I don’t have any explanation for that, other than to guess that he’s often the guy who will drop deeper to pick up the ball from the defense. Maybe – I’ll pay closer attention next time.

Finally, the attackers. Congrats to Cam Lancaster on his brace – that free kick was a thing of beauty. I’m sure he’d tell you, though, that the second goal was all Brian Ownby. Ownby got the benefit of being able to beat a much slower defender to serve the ball in from about six yards out with lots of options to jump on it, but still – that second goal was all him. All three of Ownby, Cuatro Davis and Lancaster did well in 1v1s, at or near 50%. Lancaster honestly didn’t see a whole lot of the ball, but when he did, it was usually in the Hounds’ 18. Of City’s 34 touches in the box, Cam had twelve of them. Glad to see he’s getting some service, and making good on his opportunities. Ownby also created three other scoring chances before coming off for Richard Ballard in the 69th minute. Nice job.

Speaking of subs, I was a little concerned about Davis coming off so early, but at least McCabe made it count and scored. Something to watch. Ballard created three chances in his 20-plus minutes, completed all eight of his passes, won three of four duels, and notched an assist. Wow.

This was another in a series of really good performances for Louisville City. I think Pittsburgh’s generally poor play had something to do with the scoreline, but that shouldn’t take away from City’s dominance over a team that usually plays very well at Slugger Field. It’s a nice win, and a very good performance at home for the first time in a while. Now, on to the next one.