One month before the start of their inaugural USL Championship season, Loudoun United had no players on their roster, and Richie Williams had been announced as head coach less than two weeks before open tryouts. Loudoun has spent much of their time on the road in 2019 as parent club D.C. United did in 2018, with a stadium opening in the summer like D.C. With quick adjustments and often times scarce resources, dressing an 18-man gamely roster once in their last five games, Loudoun has the chance to level their record at 3-3-3. While the opponent is beatable (more on them in a second), Loudoun also has some time off after this game, D.C. has three regular season contests before Loudoun’s next game on June 5 (or: plenty of time for Williams to sort out if he wants to talk to the New England Revolution and old pal Bruce Arena or not), so some of the players today would presumably be signed to short-term deals ahead of Wednesday’s friendly with La Liga side Real Betis, and may coast a little in a game they can and should win.
Which is why they shouldn’t.
Key player: Kyle Murphy
The last time Murphy appeared at Audi Field, he scored twice in a wild 3-3 draw against Bethlehem Steel, and today he faces a Hartford side at the bottom of goals scored and conceded in the Eastern Conference. If he can regain his scoring touch and put away a mentally fragile Hartford side early with a goal, this could be an easy day.
Location: Audi Field (Washington, DC)
Kickoff time: 2:00pm Eastern
Projected Loudoun starting 11: Chris Odoi-Atsem saw time last week with Loudoun and this week is in Houston with D.C.. Jack-Jean Baptiste continues to stay out with Honduras (and scored a goal in one of their friendlies), and center back Harri Hawkins remains out. So generally what you saw last week is what you’ll see this week.
Starters: Earl Edwards Jr.; Jack Villatoro, Collin Verfurth, Peabo Doue, Alexxon Saravia; Sandor Bustamante, Noah Pilato; Connor Presley, Orlando Sinclair, Andrew Lubahn; Murphy
Bench: Calle Brown, Milton Campos, Shinya Kadono, Brennan Conger
Key Hartford player: Collin Martin
Yes, the former D.C. homegrown player is with Hartford on loan from Minnesota United FC this year. Hartford has played ten games so far, two more than Loudoun, has scored four fewer goals (6) than Loudoun (10) and given up almost twice as many (25 to 14). Two weeks ago, Hartford coach (and former Sporting Kansas City goalkeeper) Jimmy Nielsen publicly questioned the leadership capabilities of his squad. Since then Hartford has played their last two opponents closer (Charlotte Independence and Memphis 901 FC) and beat the New York Cosmos last week in the U.S. Open Cup. Martin lines up in central midfield next to Nicky Downs (who Nielsen praised on those same comments) in a 4-2-3-1, so expect Martin playing in front of a lot of hometown fans, to have a spring in his step.
Referee: Eric Tattersall
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?: Water. I’ll be in the press box with Jason today (I think we’ll be at least 35% of the attending media?), which I normally wouldn’t do, but I have to be in the City tonight and very early tomorrow, so may as well go to a scarce AF.
This is the place for all your pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion. Vamos extended unbeaten streak.
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