Adam Behnke, United’s Chief Operating Officer, told reporters yesterday that the team will likely play their first six home games at D.C. United’s Audi Field. WTOP had previously confirmed that Loudoun’s stadium, a 5,000 person facility, would not be open until August, leaving the newly-formed USL — who just announced Richie Williams as their head coach — side to find an alternate venue for their first six home games.
The plans are not set yet, but will likely be confirmed in the next couple of weeks.
“Our focus is on the 11 games at the new stadium. We know we are facing an uphill battle with the first 6 games likely at Audi Field,” Behnke said after yesterday’s press conference, answering a question about how the team is doing with selling season tickets.
There are specific stadium requirements for USL teams. Mainly, they must have a stadium that seats at least 5,000 people. Behnke said that the team has looked at other options around the area, but said that Audi Field ticks most of the boxes for those first six games.
“Ideally in the next two weeks or so, we will know one way or another,” said Behnke, when asked when the location of the first six home games would be confirmed. “We want to find an absolute, so we can start messaging and marketing accordingly. We’ve been exploring options around the area, and trying to find how they met the certain requirements that are necessary to host a professional match. And right now, it’s looking like Audi Field is the best place to do so.”
With just over a month until the team’s first game against Nashville on March 9th, everything is starting to come together quickly for the club. With Williams announced as the coach this week, the team finally has an on the field leader, and one that is well known in the soccer community around the area, from his previous playing time with D.C. United.
On Wednesday, the team announced open tryouts on February 9th and 10th, looking for players to invite to the camp, which would start immediately afterwards. Loudoun will also draw players from the Black-and-Red, and Williams is heading to United’s training camp in Florida today to get a chance to look at some of the players he might get to use throughout the 2019 season.
“We got a late start, and just because we are an expansion team, there is a lot to do in a short time in terms of putting a roster and staff together,” Williams said on Tuesday. “We have a lot to do. It’s a challenge, but it’s an opportunity. It’s going to be great.”
Loudoun will spend the first two months of the season on the road, playing six games in March and April. Their first home game is on May 3rd, when they host Bethlehem Steel. The other games that would end up at Audi Field include dates on May 19th, May 25th, June 15th, June 28th, and July 28th. Loudoun’s own stadium is set to open with the August 9th tilt against the Charlotte Independence.
In addition, a new training facility to be utilized by both D.C. and Loudoun, located on the same site as the Loudoun stadium, will likely not open until next January or February. That will leave both clubs to train for the entirety of the year at the RFK Auxiliary Fields, which has one natural and one turf field.
“We are hoping by the time we get to February of next year, that we have a training facility ready to go for the first team and Loudoun United,” said Behnke.