Loudoun United continues to progress to the team that coach Ryan Martin hoped that they would be with a 3-1 win over Atlanta United 2 last week, and with the return of several young players (and the opportunities for developmental minutes therein) to go along with the additions of others, they face a distracted and somewhat reeling Saint Louis FC squad that they may be able to sneak some points from in a vital road game.
Key player: Antonio Bustamante
Saint Louis is a side that to date has scored one fewer goal (17) to Loudoun, but the thing keeping them afloat presently is a defense that is 4th best (15 goals allowed) in the USLC. Put things in perspective for a second, Bustamante is 2nd on the team in chances created (9) to Connor Presley (14) despite playing exactly half the games of Presley. Nobody on Loudoun has as many minutes as done as much with passing accuracy (87%), long pass accuracy (58.3%), pass accuracy in opposition half (75.7%) and passes per game (48.4). As goes Bustamante, so goes Loudoun, at least tonight.
Location: World Wide Technology Soccer Park (Fenton, MO)
Kickoff time: 8:30pm Eastern
Projected Loudoun starting 11: Martin has his U17s back from DA Playoffs in California and continues to use them: Ted Ku-DiPietro, Moses Nyeman, Jeremy Garay and Jacob Greene are all from that team and have all made the trip, as has Akeem Ward (loaned from D.C. United). No word as of this writing if Earl Edwards Jr. joined Ward, though since he started last week, it’s reasonable to assume he made this trip. Andrew Lubahn remains out so Ku-DiPietro probably starts, perhaps next to Nyeman in midfield.
Starters: Earl Edwards Jr.; Connor Presley, Allexon Saravia, Harri Hawkins, Akeem Ward; Moses Nyeman, Noah Pilato; Ted Ku-DiPietro, Antonio Bustamante, Christian Sorto; Kyle Murphy
Bench: Calle Brown, Greene, Sandor Bustamante, Jack-Jean Baptiste, Garay, Shinya Kadono, Orlando Sinclair
Key Hartford player: Sam Fink
Saint Louis is in a bit of a pickle at the moment; they go on the road to play Atlanta United next Wednesday in the U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinals; given coach Anthony Pulis played (and later coached) in the Orlando City SC organization there is some desire to both advance while beating a localized foe, but more than that, since April 28 they have more Open Cup wins (4) than they do USL Championship wins (0), and should they lose tonight, they would have 3 teams within two points of 10th, the last spot over the red line, which Saint Louis holds.
So I think Pulis gets some pause here, opting to rest Lewis Hilton (who leads the team in created chances, largely from crosses), so thus, the focus on team captain and center back Fink would be key. If he can help clear Loudoun chances then there could be a counter attack to follow.
Referee: Adam Kilpatrick
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What are you drinking?: Phantom of the Oak (Stonefruit), Burley Oak. I was in Delaware this week and finagled some JREAMS from the Berlin establishment, but stuck around for their mixed fermentation saisons which were sneaky impressive. I tasted the base and the variant conditioned on raspberries, and figured I’d close it out with this one on peaches, plums and apricots. If you go to the Eastern Shore you should hit this place for the fruited sours and a sneaky good IPA game.
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