3 takeaways from Louisville City's U.S. Open Cup loss in Chicago - WDRB 41 Louisville News

3 takeaways from Louisville City's U.S. Open Cup loss in Chicago

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The sun set on Louisville City's inaugural U.S. Open Cup run, but coach James O'Connor felt his team had a lot to be proud of in their showing at Toyota Park. The sun set on Louisville City's inaugural U.S. Open Cup run, but coach James O'Connor felt his team had a lot to be proud of in their showing at Toyota Park.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- After Louisville lost to the Chicago Fire in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup Tuesday night, head coach James O'Connor was quiet coming out of the locker room and praised his team for their effort and fortitude. It might be surprising, in a way, to think that a third-tier team came away from a match with a long-time Major League Soccer franchise feeling like something had been taken from them -- but that was definitely the mood after their narrow loss. Here are three takeaways from the game to keep in mind as Louisville City moves forward:

1. The back line is solid – Bryan Burke gets all the credit for his runs down the wing and his sharp give-and-go's with Kadeem Dacres, but as Coach James O'Connor reiterates, all aspects of his team's play are a collective effort. Burke can't afford to chance those runs if he has to worry about scrambling back to help the defense at all times. Burke and Conor Shanosky are solid leaders on a back line that has been tough to crack this season. While Chicago's attack, led by Harry Shipp's creativity and free-flowing movement, had its way with the middle of the field at times, the back line was always there to put a fizzle the attacks or prevent that final connection. That back line can certainly be credited with keeping the Fire from developing real chances off their build-ups. A particularly well-timed tackle by Shanosky midway through the second period of extra time prevented what would have been a one-on-one between Guly Do Prado and keeper Scott Goodwin. But with the steady hands of Goodwin behind the back line, you can see why it took a wild – and possibly illegal – deflection to finally put Chicago on the score sheet Tuesday night.

2. The offense is potent – Though City's chances were certainly fewer, the shots they got off looked more convincing than most of Chicago's final touches. The closest of all was Magnus Rasmussen's blazing shot from outside the box, which glanced off the cross bar and sent Chicago keeper Sean Johnson rocketing into the air in a panic. The last promising chance came when Niall McCabe pulled off a nasty cutback in the box to send one defender sliding helplessly towards the end line, but he just wasn't able to pull the trigger quickly enough to slot a shot in before the next defender caught up to him. The occasional miscues and unseen passing lanes led to a loss of possession in the midfield, but every attacker seems to have that eye for goal and the instinct to get themselves in dangerous positions. When Chicago's attack would fizzle or the forwards would finally give up possession, City would take it straight back to them. Sure, Louisville's attack has its issues at times, but that brings up takeaway number three…

3. O'Connor likes what he sees – After the match, James O'Connor said it clearly:

“That was our third game in six days and we've gone out and -- at times our football was exhilarating – but to do that, having had what we've had, it's a credit to the players, I could not be more proud of each and every one of our players.“

That really sums it up, but he went on to note that this team has only been playing together for a short while. The miscommunications are born out of a group of players who haven't had the time to get comfortable with one another. Now, excuses aside, the match really came down to one goal; one penalty box scramble that led to a lot of confusion and a game-winning goal for Chicago. How did Louisville get to that point? By fending off chance after chance and shutting down attack after attack, then taking the ball back at the opposition with speed and intensity. Ultimately, it was a game of inches out there and O'Connor recognizes what needs to be worked on to improve his squad with an eye on the post-season.

More: Late strike lifts Major League's Chicago Fire past Louisville City in extra time

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