Nothing cures what ails Louisville City like a match against St. Louis FC. James O’Connor returned to the successful three-at-the-back formation that accompanied Elsie’s best performances this season, and the team returned to their winning ways. Yellow card suspensions meant Kyle Smith and Paolo DelPiccolo were not available for the road trip. George Davis IV apparently did not travel with the team, either, though I’m unsure why.
This game was a return to form for City, as I mentioned. The white and gold dominated possession (nearly 60-40), duels (same margin), shots (26 – 7), and passing in the opposing half (nearly 80% to about 55%). About half of City’s 26 shots were on frame, too. That’s very good! City also attempted nearly 500 passes, which is a lot for a USL game. Elsie also had 29 touches in the Chupacapbra penalty area by my count to STL’s eleven.
Individually, Speedy Williams made the most of his start in place of the suspended DelPiccolo, staying central, completing over 90% of his 77 passes, and creating chances to score. It’s got to be reaaaalllly hard for O’Connor to leave him off the field. Guy Abend turned in another of the sterling performances we’ve come to expect from him all season, too.
Oscar started at right wing and was my Man of the Match. He passed the ball well, created three scoring chances, was about 50% on crosses, and had a goal and an assist. On the opposite wing, Mark-Anthony Kaye did not have the same impact, but did reasonably well despite having a lot less of the ball. Kaye created two scoring chances of his own, but the guy has got to figure out how not to fall prey to an offside trap. Four times he made the flag go up. Still, I was pretty pleased with how he played.
The centerbacks were fantastic. Sean Reynolds completed all of his 29 passes, and Tarek Morad and Paco Craig were not far behind him. As a group they won 16 of 22 duels, which is very good, and had twelve interceptions. Granted, once St. Louis went down a man, these guys didn’t have much to do. Paco made the most of his chances, though, and got on the end of one of Oscar’s crosses to score his first goal for LouCity this season.
The attackers did fine. I do hope that Brian Ownby is not badly injured. Richard Ballard was great again as a sub, and Luke Spencer could have scored more than his one goal, too. They all passed the ball very well, too. Niall McCabe quietly had one of the best games I’ve seen him play in quite some time – 5 chances created, 3 shots, and passed well, as he had far more touches on the ball than his two compatriots.
Finally, Dobrowolski got the start in goal. While the defense won’t be getting bagels this week, Tim still did a very good job between the sticks on the few occasions he was called upon. His distribution could have been better, but otherwise I don’t have much to fuss about.
About that Volesky red card: a high boot to the face, intent or no, is probably gonna draw red about half the time. It’s easily a yellow. I don’t have an issue with the card, and probably wouldn’t have had an issue if it was a City player doing the same thing. That’s literally a great way to lose an eye, and it was largely a needless challenge. I don’t think there was any ill intent. St. Louis fans can grouse about that if they want, but that sort of thing is dangerous. It was nice to see City actually play well while up a man for the first time in quite a while, I must say.
All in all, a very nice team performance that leaves City just three points out of first with two games in hand. Onward and upward.