With a little less than two weeks to go before a more geographically accurate home opener at Segra Field, Loudoun United plays their last “home game” at Audi Field tonight, and up against a still formidable foe in Louisville City FC. Louisville may be in 8th in the Eastern Conference, but since hosting Loudoun (and beating them 2-1) almost two months and 6 games ago, Louisville has lost twice, albeit at a 1-2-3 clip. They remain the two-time defending USL champions, a recent attempt to stop them by a Virginia driver notwithstanding. Loudoun sits in 15th of 18 and can use a win to not only keep pace with Bethlehem and Birmingham but leapfrog Memphis in the process to get a shot at a postseason berth. It also requires scoring goals, which Loudoun hasn’t done in their last two games, but I digress.
Key player: Gordon Wild
Bit of a cop-out answer here, but Wild’s deployment could potentially hint at where he’d go in D.C.’s lineup. He’s been added to the provisional roster (thanks to Steven Goff) and if that’s the case, is likely starting. So the question becomes does he play more of a wingback role in Loudoun, or something similar to Connor Presley? The workrate and skillsets are similar, though Wild’s finishing is more polished. Presley only started getting looks at right full back/wingback in the last couple of months as Wild did, so does coach Ryan Martin let the Wild wingback experiment continue, or allow him to get his sea legs in the D.C. organization as more of a pure attacker?
Location: Audi Field (Washington, DC)
Kickoff time: 7:30pm Eastern
Projected Loudoun starting 11: Let’s start with what we know: we know that Griffin Yow and Bryang Kayo are with the United States U-17 team at a summer camp that goes until August 7 (just before Loudoun’s home opener at Segra Field). We know that D.C. United midfielder Antonio Bustamante left Wednesday’s friendly with Marseille to injury, and his status remains unknown. We also know that Shinya Kadono was loaned to USL League One side Tormenta FC, and scored a goal for them last night. We also know that midfielder (and former DC Academy player) Alexis Cerritos and forward Elvis Amoh have been added to the provisional roster, as has Wild. So let’s piece things together!
Starters: Earl Edwards Jr.; Connor Presley, Alexxon Saravia, Harri Hawkins, Peabo Doue; Nelson Martinez, Moses Nyeman; Christian Sorto, Orlando Sinclair, Wild; Kyle Murphy
Bench: Calle Brown, Collin Verfurth, Jeremy Garay, Noah Pilato, Theodore Ku-DiPietro, Cerritos, John Murphy
Key Louisville player: Oscar Jimenez
Sure, Magnus Rasmussen scored against Loudoun the last time these two played and will remain a cagey option running against a relatively inexperienced backline. But Jimenez leads Louisville in passes and his 180 crosses are 30 more than anyone else in the USL Championship. Bridle him and the ponies have a shot, if they can get some offense going. Wild in as a starter makes it interesting to be sure.
Referee: Dejan Susak
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?: Assuming they have parking, press box water. If not? I’ll improvise I guess.
This is the place for all your pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussion.
(Black and Red United has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Black and Red United and SB Nation may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our guiding principles.)