After another dramatic 3-2 win last week against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons men’s soccer team returns to Spry this week in what is their final regular season home game, facing the Louisville Cardinals. The Deacs carry a 10-2-1 record into this one, with an 8-2-1 conference record (2-0-1 in the spring), while the Cards sit at 3-7-1, 3-6-1 in conference (2-1-0 in the spring). In their most recent outing, Louisville were shellacked by the Boston College Eagles by a score of 4-0. The Deacs lead the all time series 10-3-0. The Deacs will be looking to get a win in their final game on home turf of this regular season against a team that has started the spring window strong.
These two squads faced off in Louisville to open the fall season, and things did not go swimmingly for the Cards. Machop Chol scored inside of five minutes for the Deacs, and Calvin Harris added another before the half. A Pedro Fonseca set piece goal pulled Louisville back into the game, but a Kyle Holcomb penalty kick snuffed out hopes of a comeback 5 minutes later, and Wake saw it out 3-1. That game feels like years ago now, however, as two of those scorers for the Deacs are no longer on the squad. For Louisville, they’ll be hoping for a change of fortunes against Wake, as they have lost 9 of their last 10 against the Deacs, although their last win was an ACC tournament win en route to an ACC title for the Cards in 2018. As for their fortunes so far this season, they have also seen a turn in the spring, as they sit at 2-1 in ACC play this spring with wins over the NC State Wolfpack and Syracuse Orange after finishing the fall window at 1-5-1 in conference.
Tactically, Louisville is a downright fun team to watch based on their spring games so far. Everything for the Cardinals is fast paced. They employ a 3-4-3 formation, but press with 4 in the front line. This team is high pressure and counter attacking through and through, as they look to win the ball back as high up the field as possible, and, when they get the ball, look to move it into a position of danger as quickly as possible, either through quick passing interchanges or very direct play. This style has greatly aided the Cardinal attack, with this past week’s loss to BC being the only time they’ve been kept off the scoreboard this season. However, it has also been detrimental to the defense, as they have the worst defensive record in the ACC. Wake’s attack will likely need to stay in fine form this week to get a result out of this game.
Ones to Watch:
#7 Pedro Fonseca (MF/FW): This Junior out of Brazil is one of the many excellent Louisville attackers, but Fonseca stands out above the rest. Everything he does just seems so crisp and deliberate, he does very well in tight spaces and always seems to find a dangerous ball. He leads this team in goals and assists with 4 and 3 respectively, good for 11 points. He is the main creative outlet for this team, as well as contributing to the press, finding ways to win the ball back or being in the right spot to collect a loose ball or an outlet pass after the ball is won. He presents a real danger for this Wake midfield and backline.
#17 Elijah Amo (W): Holland Rula will have his hands full with Amo, as he also presents a very real danger to the Wake backline. Amo is the kind of winger that Louisville loves. He possesses great speed, decent feet, and a killer final ball. Aboubacar Camara scored almost identical goals in the Syracuse and NC State games because of Amo’s ability to find space and hit that final pass perfectly. He has 3 goals and 2 assists this season and is an integral part of the Louisville attack. They look to find him in space on the right side quite a bit so that he can create a chance for Louisville by himself or for a teammate.
#24 Jake Swallen (MF): Swallen has been another player that has stepped up in a new position this spring, with Bobby Muuss moving him back from attacking midfield into the heart of the midfield with the departure of Isaiah Parente to MLS necessitating that change. Swallen has stepped up, with a goal and an assist in the spring, but his contribution has gone beyond the stat sheet. He’s been a steady presence as part of a pivot with Hosei Kijima, and has been useful in transitioning from defense to attack, either with killer balls from deep or by keeping possession and waiting for an opening. He’s been very important to Wake’s success this spring, but Louisville presents a unique test with its dogged press. Swallen will have to stand up to significant pressure, his performance will be a key one in deciding this game.
#17 Omar Hernandez (MF/W): In the Notre Dame game last week, we finally saw Omar Hernandez break through in the spring with Wake’s first goal in South Bend. Hernandez played on the right wing for the most part in that game, although he did spend some time in attacking midfield. He is a player that Bobby Muuss is trying to find a spot on the field for, as he has the ability to change a game in one moment, as he did a couple of times in the fall with his late winner against the Duke Blue Devils and his assist to Kyle Holcomb on the overtime winner versus the North Carolina Tar Heels. With more space to operate in, which he will likely have if Louisville plays their 3-4-3, he could have a big impact on this game too.
Kickoff is set for 7:00 at Spry.