The good news for Loudoun is that they still appear to be clinging to the possibility of life in the playoffs. Birmingham lost to Swope Park, so the last playoff spot stands at 39 points for the time being. Loudoun has 27, and 5 games left to play. Don’t slip up, play some insanely good soccer that gets you six points the next 4 days, and you’re on your way.
The bad news is several teams in the Eastern Conference can say something similar about the top spot as well. The first one came (Nashville SC) came to town Saturday and won appropriately, though Loudoun didn’t look totally out of place in the 2-0 loss. Nashville took possession of first place, tied on points with Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, Loudoun’s opponent tonight.
So it won’t be easy!
Key player: Collin Verfurth
Assuming that he’s in (and that Harri Hawkins is still out), he’s going to need to not only keep good organization of the backline with potentially his second new partner in as many games, but he’s going to have to ensure they don’t have the same mistakes like slip, bad fouls and whatnot, because Pittsburgh is on a bit of a shutout streak, so a mistake in his end may be all that’s needed for the game to be settled.
Location: Segra Field (Leesburg, VA)
Kickoff time: 7:30pm Eastern
Projected Loudoun starting 11: With rotation going on and no D.C. United game until Sunday again, perhaps there’s more loanees than usual coming in that we’re unaware of; Chris Odoi-Atsem has played 45 minutes in the last two games, alternating with Peabo Doue. Maybe Donovan Pines gets an hour or so as a further boost in central defense. Antonio Bustamante, Griffin Yow and Gordon Wild would potentially see their third starts in less than a week, so it’s hard to tell what they have in the tank. Yesterday, the team added Alioune Ndour, a Senegal forward from Sognal in Norway’s second division. Ndour’s scored five in twelve games with the club, but I’d doubt he gets thrown to the wolves this soon.
Starters: Calle Brown; Hunter Gorskie, Verfurth, Miguel Garduno, Peabo Doue; John Murphy, Nelson Martinez; Carlos Alvarez, Wild, Andrew Lubahn; Kyle Murphy
Bench: Colin Miller, Connor Presley, Shane Wiedt, Moses Nyeman, Bustamante, Yow, Christian Sorto, Elvis Amoh
Key Pittsburgh player: Kenardo Forbes
Pittsburgh is pretty damned good, not gonna lie. They beat Loudoun in Pittsburgh 1-0 on August 23 1-0. Since then? No losses, going 5-0-2 including that win. Also? No goals allowed either; all clean sheets, giving them 15 on the year (giving them the lead in the USL), with the possibility to eclipse their total of 17 in 2018, which also led the USL with Phoenix.
Like Loudoun, Pittsburgh is in the middle of their own stretch of compact games; this is game 4 of 5 in 15 days for them while Loudoun is on game 4 of 5 in 17. Presumably both teams will do some further rotating, that said, Forbes’ 66 created chances puts him 8th in the League, and scored two goals Saturday night in route to a 3-0 win over Indy Eleven. If Forbes doesn’t get another go, Neco Brett (11 goals) is another to look out for.
Referee: Uh...well...I dunno. As of Monday night, this information isn’t available.
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What are you drinking?: Water with a helping of caffeine, assuming I can get down there in time.
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