Six weeks from today, Loudoun United will christen their stadium in Leesburg, Virginia (where their training complex with D.C. United will also be), but they could really use a win tonight. They have at least two and as many as four games in hand on the teams in front and back of them in the 18-team Eastern Conference. Sitting in 15th, they could get to as high as 12th, a point back of 11th with a win over an Atlanta United 2 side likely looking for the same thing. Loudoun has lost 3 of its last 4, including Audi Field affairs with Hartford Athletic and Indy Eleven, the latter being on an 89th minute gutter. Coach Ryan Martin has stressed patience and progress (and said as much in a talk with B&RU this week), and feels the boys are ready to go.
Hope he’s right.
Key player: Orlando Sinclair
Before getting into it, it should be Loudoun also has a healthy group back. Calle Brown (out with a concussion) was in practice last week, as was center back Harri Hawkins. Captain Kyle Murphy was on the side in training but said he would be ready to go. And why would he lie, right? Mix that with 3 new signings and Academy players to utilize, and Martin may have his largest complement to date to select from.
Anyway, Sinclair should have a little more vulnerable backline to work on today, and played as a central midfielder/withdrawn striker a little last week and was honing things a little more. There was no mention of loanees by D.C. so Antonio Bustamante may not figure into the mix for Loudoun (Griffin Yow is clearer, and will probably stay with D.C. for their game tomorrow with Toronto FC), but it remains to be seen.
Location: Audi Field (Washington, DC)
Kickoff time: 7:30pm Eastern
Projected Loudoun starting 11: With the new signings and Alexxon Saravia’s place in the XI, imagine he’ll get the nod. It is unclear if Christian Sorto will start but he should get involved, as should Academy players Gabe Segal and Theodore Ku-DiPietro, who (barring last minute change) is expected to receive his first pro start.
Starters: Brown; Connor Presley, Saravia, Hawkins, Peabo Doue; Sandor Bustamante, Noah Pilato; Andrew Lubahn, Sinclair, Ku-DiPietro; Murphy
Bench: Colin Miller, Nelson Martinez, Jack Villatoro, Jack-Jean Baptiste, Kadono, Segal, Sorto
Key ATL UTD player: Lawrence Wyke
Rather than use boxcars and past footage that I could skim through and miss people on, I asked Jason Longshore (from Atlanta soccer web and podcasting lore and host of Soccer Down Here) for his thoughts on it:
He’s a rookie out of Furman, originally from England. He’s played CB, RB, and DM this season and been impressive in all of them. Excellent right foot, great range of passing, and he can get forward and score. Great speed as well. He’s been a really pleasant surprise this season. ATL should have their academy players back in the mix. Keep an eye on Will Vint if he plays.
Referee: Calin Radosav
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?: Weather and parking permitting, press box water, and a bucket full of it apparently.
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