Loudoun United is just more than 3 months away from the opening of their stadium in Leesburg but like parent club D.C. United, they have played and continue to play games on the road, save for an occasional “home date.” The first of those is tonight at Audi Field against Bethlehem Steel FC, the Philadelphia Union’s USL franchise.
The opponent is mildly notable, in that Loudoun’s first scrimmage back in February was against a Steel franchise trialing many, and providing some homegrown players some exposure to professional minutes. Bethlehem has started better however, going 3-4-1 to Loudoun’s 1-3-2. That said, Loudoun has been in positions to take more points than they have but have allowed two goals in the 75th minute or later of games already, recently to the Birmingham Legion in a 1-0 loss in the 93rd minute. Loudoun goes back on the road shortly after the game but hopes to find the form that they had in their scrimmage win over the Steel two months back.
Key player: Kyle Murphy
The forward has generally served as the captain for the club, and for a Loudoun side that has only scored 4 goals, he has one. Facing a Steel side in the bottom third in goals conceded, 2nd worst in fouls conceded and playing at home, Murphy should try a way to convert the chances that come to him. Whether the chances are of quality remains to be seen; the Loudoun attack could barely be called one; along with the League worst goals scored, they are at the bottom of passes made and passing accuracy. If there were a chance for someone to score goals for the good guys, he (or Costa Rica forward Orlando Sinclair) would be the ones to get them.
Location: Audi Field (Washington, D.C.)
Kickoff time: 7:30pm Eastern
Projected Loudoun starting 11: Like the past couple of weeks, with D.C. players hurt, the loanees to Loudoun have consisted of one player, and would expect the ponies to go with 16 as they did last week.
Starters: Earl Edwards Jr.; Jack Villatoro, Collin Verfurth, Harri Hawkins, Peabo Doue; Noah Pilato, Jack-Jean Baptiste; Connor Presley, Andrew Lubahn, Sinclair; Murphy
Bench: Calle Brown, Alexxon Saravia, Sandor Bustamante, Milton Campos, Shinya Kadono
Key Bethlehem player: James Chambers
The Steel have lost their last two and their top goalscorer (Kasper Przybylko) is up with the Union at the moment, so may as well take a look at the central mid and captain of the team who, with center back Benjamin Ofeimu are number two and three in passes completed in the East. If Loudoun can keep them busy doing other things, the home team may have a shot.
Referee: Mark Allatin
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?: Keeping’ the Funk Alive, Aslin Beer Company. It’s warm out, so may as well take advantage of a sour. Brewed with dragon and passion fruits, blackberry, lactose and vanilla it probably won’t taste like a sour, but this beer is the official one for the D.C. Funk Parade and Festival, so I’ll rep Virginia and the District with this I guess.
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