Following Loudoun United’s 2-1 loss to Pittsburgh on Tuesday, both players and coach Ryan Martin expressed disappointment in the performance. Martin is a believer in the response from such things, and Loudoun responded with arguably their most complete performance of the season, shutting out the Tampa Bay Rowdies 2-0 in front of 1,738 at Segra Field.
Loudoun’s lineup included the USL debut of forward Alioune Ndour, but also included a return to the lineup for Orlando Sinclair. Earl Edwards Jr., Moses Nyeman, Gordon Wild and Chris Odoi-Atsem appeared on loan from D.C. United as well, and Elvis Amoh (normally a forward and wide midfielder) played centrally next to Nyeman. The first half found Loudoun active in attack, though unable to find solutions in the final third, while at the same time limiting the Rowdies to 0 shots on goal.
In the second half, Loudoun struck early as Odoi-Atsem raced by Leo Fernandes deep into the Tampa area, where he fed Ndour for the put away and a Loudoun lead. The goal, Ndour’s first with Loudoun, was also Odoi-Atsem’s first assist as a professional. Tampa would continue to press for the tying goal, and after shots that Edwards saved in the first ten minutes of the second half, he didn’t have to make another save; Loudoun’s defense did an adept job of clearing the ball and intercepting passes near or in their area. In the 93rd minute they would seal the deal as Ndour crossed to Hunter Gorskie, who volleyed to D.C. United Academy player Ted Ku-DiPietro, who fed the ball to Wild for the brace (his 9th on the season) and eventual win.
“I’m just incredibly proud of the response from last week to this to this week and the way they competed, their intensity, their focus, the way they managed the game, and the way they dug in defensively,” Martin said afterwards. “That was a complete performance. The last time we were here, we thought we played a good 70 minutes, but tonight was a complete performance. Even having 16 shots to their eight, we created more than enough to put the game away earlier but I’m just incredibly proud of the guys.”
“Every month I feel better and better week by week, and tonight I felt really good out there,” Odoi-Atsem said of his game, where he left in the 62nd minute to substitution. “(Getting up and down field) is what I love doing. I know my job is to defend first but I love getting forward as well, that’s how I was in Maryland. I just gotta get my fitness back up to speed when I can do that again, because I know I’m capable of it.”
Loudoun (8-17-6, 30 points) move to 14th in the Eastern Conference, and their next game is hosting St. Louis FC Wednesday night at Segra Field.