Days after Loudoun United’s 2-1 loss to Hartford Athletic on May 19, their head coach Richie Williams left to take a job as an assistant to Bruce Arena at the New England Revolution. Shortly thereafter, Ryan Martin found himself once again a candidate to lead D.C. United’s USL Championship affiliate. Compared to the winter, the Academy Director found himself with a little bit of time after the academy season, and decided to take the job.
At the time of the hire Martin said, “We have a talented group of young players mixed with experience and I am looking forward to the challenge of producing good results and performances for the rest of this inaugural campaign.” In speaking with Martin last week at practice, he continued to cite the talent within the club but also said they were a work in progress.
“I think the biggest message we’ve had as a group is, can we find 90 minutes? You know we were very pleased with the second half at Louisville, pleased with the first half with Indy and then it dropped off. So now it’s like, ‘Can we have a 90-minute outing when we get to Atlanta?,’” said Martin. “We always tell the guys to be a good pro, you have to be consistent, otherwise you’re never going to be selected for this team, or Ben Olsen’s team, so we’re just searching for individual and collective consistency right now, which I think is coming along.”
Loudoun has won one of three games since Martin took over May 28, but they’ve scored 5 goals in those games. By comparison, Loudoun scored 11 in the preceding 9 games under Williams. This is reflected in Martin’s remarks. “We’re trying to be a bit more proactive in our approach and put the guys in positions to make decisions and help their growth and development. We want to create some good scoring opportunities, be fun to watch, but we also want to win and compete and grow that way.”
Team captain Kyle Murphy has noticed the vitality in the locker room, saying “(Richie) had a good opportunity so had to take it, but it’s almost kind of a fresh start, where we have a new group of guys, with more competition and you gotta prove yourself to the new coaching staff, which is good.”
Martin has given professional debuts to Academy players Moses Nyeman, Bryang Kayo, Adam Lundegard and Nelson Martinez in those first three games. While Martinez was training with Loudoun, the trio were in California at the U.S. Soccer DA playoffs, where Martin had additional interest. “I’ve been texting with the guys following the games, and hopefully they can get themselves out of group stage...I’m already having a conversation with them to start training with us and help that growth process, but that group in our Academy is a special generation. From our end, we’re going to really do everything we can to make sure a number of them get through and have opportunities.”
Loudoun United hosts Atlanta United 2 at Audi Field Friday night at 7:30pm.