Four weeks ago, D.C. United’s USL affiliate began open tryouts for their team, which was announced last July. Now, their first kickoff occurs, and coach Richie Williams (a D.C. legend himself) faces an uphill task on multiple fronts. Putting aside the fact that assembling Loudoun United FC has been a kinetic task, and that their existence begins with an extensive road trip, they are facing a Nashville SC side who many USL followers predict could contend for an Eastern Conference title after addressing an item of need with a couple of big, talented options.
Location: First Tennessee Park (Nashville, Tennessee)
Kickoff time: 8:00pm Eastern
Projected Loudoun starting 11: If what Steve Goff says is true, then expect a 4-2-3-1 similar to what D.C. uses, with D.C. loanees getting the lead minutes: Calle Brown; Akeem Ward, Donovan Pines, Harri Hawkins, Peabo Doue; Noah Pilato, Sandor Bustamante; Connor Presley, Shinya Kadono, Antonio Bustamante; Kyle Murphy
Bench: Colin Miller, Andrew Lubahn, Allexon Saravia, Collin Verfurth, Bryang Kayo, Elian Nalerio, Griffin Yow
Key Nashville player: Cameron Lancaster/Daniel Rios
Nashville is prepping themselves for MLS to an extent (current coach Gary Smith, who won the 2010 MLS Cup with the Colorado Rapids, is being brought back to the MLS side). But they’re still a team who conceded the second-fewest goals in the USL last year, headed up by former D.C. United draft pick Liam Doyle, but also by former Rapids players Kosuke Kimura and goalkeeper Matt Pickens.
Nashville was dialed in on defense, but less so on offense, where they were in the bottom third in terms of goals scored. They attempted to remedy this in the offseason by signing Lancaster (the Golden Boot winner last year with 26 goals in 33 games) from two-time defending champions Louisville City FC and Rios (20 goals in 31 games) from North Carolina FC. Presumably both will start and if they hit chemistry early, this could be a long game for Loudoun’s almost brand new backline.
Referee: Thomas Snyder
Available streaming: ESPN+
What are you drinking?: Ocelot/Veil Bigger Cat. For my money, Ocelot makes the best IPAs in the area (they’ve done periodic collaborations with Bluejacket down in Navy Yard), and Bigger Cat is a TIPA and sequel to the DIPA Big Cat, both of which are collabs with The Veil. It’s an 11% hop salad of Nelson, Citra and Galaxy and at least when it comes to celebrating D.C.’s current USL affiliate (Ocelot’s Loudoun location) with their past one (The Veil is in Richmond), it seemed right.
This is the place for all your pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion. Bring on MLS owned and operated second-division soccer!