Loudoun United may be out of the running for the playoffs, but have perhaps used the lack of pressure to find their confidence, defeating playoff teams in their last two games, including an extra-time winning thriller Wednesday night, for their first win streak in team history. They continue to look to end the season on an up note by playing their third consecutive team in playoff contention, this time on the road.
Key player: Kyle Murphy
The captain didn’t expect to start on Wednesday until after the lineup was announced and Ted Ku-DiPietro was a late scratch, and responded with a goal in a little more than an hour of work. With Elvis Amoh out (yellow card accumulation) and Alioune Ndour potentially looking at his third start in 9 days, Murphy presumably gets the look to further extend his career high in goals in one season.
Location: MUSC Health Stadium (Charleston, SC)
Kickoff time: 2:00pm Eastern
Projected Loudoun starting 11: As of this writing, there’s been no word on the D.C. United loanees, even though Gordon Wild and Antonio Bustamante have been spotted down in Chucktown. Presumably Griffin Yow could get a half hour or so before the U-17 World Cup as was the thinking a week or so ago, but that remains to be seen.
Starters: Calle Brown; Connor Presley, Collin Verfurth, Shane Wiedt, Rob Dambrot; Moses Nyeman, Antonio Bustamante; Ku-DiPietro, Gordon Wild, Andrew Lubahn; Murphy
Bench: Collin Miller, Alexxon Saravia, Peabo Doue, Nelson Martinez, Carlos Alvarez, Christian Sorto, Alione Ndour
Key Bethlehem player: Kotaro Higashi
Charleston find themselves in a minor pickle; they sit below the red line, tied on points with Birmingham but on fewer wins. Additionally, St. Louis (2 points ahead of both teams) lost last night at home to Pittsburgh, so a win today would leapfrog the Battery from 11th to 9th. Given that MUSC Stadium is a place they’ve lost in 11 times in six seasons, a win would go a long way to clinching a playoff spot. Circumstances make the spot there for the taking but it won’t be easy, as they are missing three starters to CONCACAF Nations League duty, including Zeiko Lewis, team leader in goals scored (6) and chances created (35). Higashi is the assist leader and plays the left midfield, and may be the main focus today.
Referee: Gabriele Giusti
Available streaming: ESPN+ (click here and subscribe to ESPN+, and your friends at B&RU get a little bit of cash!)
What are you drinking?: Not completely sure. It’s either water or Secret Machine (Double Lychee, Double Dragonfruit) by Dewey Beer Company. Been a strange week and honestly don’t know where I’ll be physically at kickoff.
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