Loudoun United knew that playing their last opponent was going to be tough and the 3-1 loss that followed was what they expected to a degree, though there were some moments of optimism on a micro level. The deep midfield combination of Moses Nyeman and Jeremy Garay combined for 118/138 passing (amounting to an 85% accuracy), 3 chances created, 3 tackles, 3 clearances and 4 interceptions. Extend it out to Garay’s pro debut three days before where he missed only three passes (91/94) and won 5 of 7 duels, D.C. United’s teenaged midfielders completed 90% of their passes against pro competition, which is nothing to sneeze at.
That said, more than moral victories need to be accumulated for Loudoun to have any whiff of the postseason. They gave up five goals in games to Charleston and Ottawa, and play another pro team tonight, a USL club type they have had problems playing thus far, and coach Ryan Martin needs to stop the club’s winless streak before it gets to 5.
Key player: Gordon Wild
Wild scored the fifth-fastest goal in USL history and the third fastest this season (14 seconds), but he blew a chance to tie the game early in the second half against Ottawa and the team couldn’t bring together many more serious attacks after that. He owned up to the miss after the game and was spotted working late in D.C.’s practice Monday, which is encouraging. At 9 games with Loudoun he already is tied for second in goals scored (3) and including his time at Atlanta United 2 has 6 on the year. Hopefully the yips can go away so Wild can elevate the game for himself and others.
Location: Highmark Stadium (Pittsburgh, PA)
Kickoff time: 7:00pm Eastern
Projected Loudoun starting 11: Presumably Earl Edwards Jr. and Antonio Bustamante join the club on loan, and potentially Griffin Yow as well. Martin made note of Elvis Amoh’s performance against Ottawa at forward, though I would imagine that Kyle Murphy gets the call so he can wear out the Pittsburgh backline that includes former Naval Academy grad and Colorado Rapids draft pick Joe Greenspan, so that Amoh can come on for any needed offense. The other question is with games Wednesday with Birmingham and Saturday with North Carolina, does Martin let Garay and Nyeman go again? With Bustamante having a week to rest up, and Pittsburgh having a decent offense, maybe on the bench.
Starters: Edwards; Connor Presley, Collin Verfurth, Harri Hawkins, Robbie Dambrot; Nelson Martinez, Bustamante; Carlos Alvarez, Wild, Yow; Murphy
Bench: Calle Brown, Jacob Greene, Moses Nyeman, Orlando Sinclair, Christian Sorto, Alexis Cerritos, Amoh
Key Pittsburgh player: Kenardo Forbes
Pittsburgh is a tough club to beat at home. In fact, they’ve lost twice in two years there, so Loudoun’s got their hands full already. The midfielder played under coach Bob Lilley in Rochester and now here, and is in the Top 10 in chances created with 52. The highest chance creator for Loudoun is Bustamante with 29 so rather than focus on a Riverhounds club that has 25 clean sheets since the beginning of 2018, if Loudoun can keep some control on the wheel of the Hounds offense, who knows?
Referee: Chris Ruska
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?: It’s been a long 24 hours or so for this guy, so I may crack open one of the Sleeping Forever variants (from the Veil in Richmond) that I got on a trade recently.
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