When D.C. United General Manager and Vice President of Soccer Operations Dave Kasper spoke about having a new USL franchise and the availability to build organizationally, he suggested that the New York Red Bulls were what he was aiming for when it came to Loudoun United FC’s planning.
And at a high level it’s easy to see why: since the Red Bulls II’s founding before the 2015 season, they have appeared in the last three Eastern Conference Finals, winning the 2016 USL Cup. They’ve managed to integrate first team loanees and develop players simultaneously and to great effect (current United States national team players Aaron Long and Tyler Adams have each seen their skills honed at the Baby Bulls), and while it’s early in the season, Red Bulls II are unbeaten, winning four of their first five games, including a midweek 4-0 win over expansion side Hartford that took them to the top of the East.
Key player: Collin Verfurth
Verfurth played in place of Donovan Pines who we all know was with D.C. last week against the Colorado Rapids and Verfurth was adequate, save for a judgment lapse that led to an Ottawa Fury brace Saturday afternoon. He’s going to need to be on his toes today because the Red Bulls II are well-tuned and well-coached, and already leading the East in offense. If the backline gets overwhelmed, this will get ugly.
Location: MSU Soccer Park (Montclair, New Jersey)
Kickoff time: 1:00pm Eastern
Projected Loudoun starting 11: D.C.’s injury problems last week forced Loudoun to dress 16, and they were minus their international signings to boot (due to visa issues), resulting in all of the field players on the bench being Academy kids. It gets marginally better this week as the internationals can play (Milton Campos has been added to the gamely roster more than two months after signing), though the ponies appear to be without the services of Ariel Fantoni, who has yet to appear and was spotted on social media this week wearing a boot on his left foot. While D.C. has loaned Akeem Ward to Loudoun this week, he is the only one; not even Earl Edwards Jr. was loaned to the team this week; we have not received an update on Edwards’ status as of this writing.
Starters: Calle Brown; Ward, Verfurth, Harri Hawkins, Peabo Doue; Noah Pilato, Sandor Bustamante; Connor Presley, Shinya Kadono, Andrew Lubahn; Kyle Murphy
Bench: Colin Miller, Alexxon Saravia, Jack-Jean Baptiste, Milton Campos, Elian Nalerio, Nelson Martinez, Orlando Sinclair
Key Red Bulls player: Tom Barlow
Given how fluid the Red Bulls send down and call up their first teamers (Andreas Ivan saw time with them midweek), Barlow is the constant when it comes to the attack, and a pretty good one at that. Drafted in the second round of the 2018 SuperDraft, Barlow signed with RBNY2 last year and scored 8 times in 23 contests. He’s off to a torrid pace in 2019, already scoring 6 in 5 games thus far. If Hawkins and Verfurth can keep him quiet, their chances become slightly manageable.
Referee: Elijio Arreguin
Available streaming: ESPN+*
What are you drinking?: Water probably. Like last week, this game overlaps with my kid’s nap window and besides, if you want to see where you want to be, may as well be clear-headed.
This is the place for all your pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion. Vamos first division rivalries in the second division!
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