Loudoun United’s last game Friday against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC was notable in that Pittsburgh has been formidable at home for a year and a half now, and while the 1-0 loss did have some positive takeaways from it individually, some old habits (giving up an early goal) returned, and tonight will be 30 days since Loudoun won (a 3-0 Audi Field win against Louisville City). Their games in hand have been reduced from 4 to 2 on most opponents, and tonight they entertain an opponent who has been on a recent tear.
Key player: Kyle Murphy
I’m taking a bit of a flyer here, in that Murphy may get included due to rotation (Elvis Amoh has started the last two, and Loudoun play again Saturday), so it would seem natural to go this route, let Murphy work on a Birmingham side on the road for a few days and perhaps get a goal (or wear them down enough to get a teammate or two) involved so that the lessons of a potentially short squad playing on the road don’t bite Loudoun in the butt for the second time in ten days.
Location: Segra Field (Leesburg, VA)
Kickoff time: 7:30pm Eastern
Projected Loudoun starting 11: Gordon Wild remained with D.C. United while Wayne Rooney sat out a red card. Given that Rooney’s suspension was extended to this week, I would assume he stays in the District while Griffin Yow (spotted at Segra Tuesday) comes in along with Earl Edwards Jr. and Antonio Bustamante. Nelson Martinez misses tonight’s game due to yellow card accumulation. Alexxon Saravia may get another shot at right back tonight after being switched and eventually pulled in the Ottawa game for being unable to keep up with Cristiano Francois, or Academy player Jacob Greene could start from the jump while Andrew Lubahn (back Friday after injury) could get a fullback stint.
Starters: Edwards Jr.; Saravia, Collin Verfurth, Harri Hawkins, Jacob Greene; Moses Nyeman, Jeremy Garay; Carlos Alvarez, Bustamante, Yow; Murphy
Bench: Calle Brown, Robby Dambrot, Connor Presley, Lubahn, Orlando Sinclair, Christian Sorto, Amoh
Key Birmingham player: Prosper Kasim
Longtime D.C. fans will recognize former coach Tom Soehn and will also recognize that 2019 SuperDraft pick Akeem Ward (waived by D.C. last month) has picked up with the club at left back. And while a second half goal by the Bethlehem Steel snapped a 624 minute shutout streak for the Hammers, Birmingham remains unbeaten in seven (winning six), the last loss being June 29 against Pittsburgh. However, Loudoun may be catching Birmingham at the right time, with the opposition missing six players (including Kyle Fisher and Daigo Kobayashi) to injury and red cards. Kasim would seem to be an easy pick; he scored the game-winner in stoppage against Loudoun in April, and scored Sunday against Bethlehem, and leads the team in goals and chance creation. If you can contain the Ghanaian midfielder/forward, you’ve got a shot at your first win at your home field.
Referee: Tori Penso
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