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Riverhounds Rabbi Scouting Report: Louisville are good, but may not be deep

Riverhounds Rabbi Scouting Report: Louisville are good, but may not be deep

The last time I discussed a match at Slugger Field, it was for my first column for Pittsburgh Soccer Now. I wrote, “On a field in Louisville reminiscent of the fur of a mangy dog…”

Well, this week I can start by saying “On a field in Louisville reminiscent of a sopping-wet industrial-sized sponge…”

Louisville welcomed the league’s best team, FC Cincinnati, to their little baseball field-pitch in monsoon conditions, and it made for some interesting football. The artificial surface covering the infield acted like a wet mop, slowing the ball like molasses and stopping any bounces dead. FCC got that audacious goal up above from Corbin Bone in the 21st. The rain intensified and came down in great sheets as the field became more of a challenge and the cameraman and audio team struggled to keep the broadcast together. And then lightning was spotted for the second time that night in the 37th minute. Because lightning had already delayed the game’s start by an hour, the match was called off. The final 53 minutes were played three days later, on Tuesday night, and Cincinnati bunkered in good and held on for a 1-0 road win.

Formation and Tactics

The takeaway lesson about Louisville City in this match was that they attacked well, but also struggled to put the ball on frame. With 59% possession, 19 shots, and 13 corners, LCFC put only five shots on target, and most were right at Cincinnati keeper Spencer Richey. Here was the best chance of the night:

Maybe it was just a fluke on this night. Forward Cameron Lancaster is actually leading USL for the Golden Boot, with 18 goals to his credit right now.

The bigger thing about this team recently is that the first time can devastate teams, but if they need to throw in a few bench players after a midweek game, they become vulnerable. There’s no other way to describe a team that can go toe-to-toe with league-best FC Cincinnati for 90 minutes and beats Richmond 6-0 and Charlotte 3-0 in late August, but also gets blown out 4-1 by bottom-feeders Toronto FC II, a team that has only 3 wins all year. In that Toronto match, Louisville rotated a number of their regular players, and the bench let them down. That might be important considering that Louisville just played a match that took place on Sunday AND Tuesday this past week.

Louisville line up in 4-2-3-1, and they make good long connections through the middle with their midfielders, Speedy Williams, Paolo DelPiccolo, and Ilija Ilic. It would be a good idea to keep those line-breaking passes to a minimum if you want to prevent them from getting their best chances, so Thomas Vancaeyezeele might need some help from midfielders Ben Zemanski, Kenardo Forbes, and/or Romeo Parkes to close down those central passing lanes.

Personnel

Like I said in that tweet above, damn does George Davis IV got some sauce. The 31-year-old has played around USL in his career, but he spent his college years not far from Louisville at the University of Kentucky, in Lexington. Cameron Lancaster scores a lot of goals, but I didn’t get a good look at him because Cincinnati locked him down pretty tight in this match.

I’m mostly interested in new head coach John Hackworth. Hackworth stepped in after LCFC head coach John O’Connor left and took his whole staff with him to Orlando City FC in MLS in early August. That was after Jason Kreis flamed out spectacularly, taking the ‘House that Kaka Built’ and turning it to, uh, poop. Hackworth coached the USYNT U17 team and MLS’ Philadelphia Union, so the pedigree and the experience of being under pressure is there. He’s got a very good team at his disposal, and I think Louisville City could be a very serious USL Cup contender. Can he figure out how to get the absolute best out of this team, though?

Form

Louisville City are 2-2-1 in their last five matches.

Mark Asher Goodman is a soccer fanatic with a particular interest in tactical analysis and advanced data and statistics. In addition to writing for PittsburghSoccerNow.com, he is the Editor of AroundMLS.com, and co-hosts a podcast on the Colorado Rapids called 'Holding the High Line'. He has previously written for the SB Nation site Burgundy Wave as well as Last Word on Soccer. When he's not reading, writing, watching, or coaching soccer, he is an actual rabbi. No, really. You can find him on twitter at @soccer_rabbi

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