Loudoun United coach Ryan Martin took Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with Birmingham as a positive step in that the players worked hard to level the game, and thought it would be something to build on. That said, Birmingham had 16 players dressed and had to make a sub in the first 25 minutes of the game due to injury, all after having played Sunday night. Loudoun’s opponent tonight has full rest and is possibly more dangerous so not only will Martin try to keep legs fresh, but he’s got to make sure the team stays on their toes.
Key player: Orlando Sinclair
Taking a flyer here, as the 21-year-old started Wednesday and handled himself well from chance creation and off the ball movement perspectives. Assuming he’s ready to go, he should contribute to a speedy midfield and could tuck under either Elvis Amoh or Kyle Murphy for some chances of his own.
Location: Segra Field (Leesburg, VA)
Kickoff time: 7:30pm Eastern
Projected Loudoun starting 11: Donovan Pines got a surprise start and effective 60 minutes, though Pines is in Canada with D.C. United against the Montreal Impact. Martin did hint at some returning players for the Saturday game and given that Gordon Wild was Player 18 for D.C. last week with Wayne Rooney suspended, he’s probably in the same boat this time, so Griffin Yow presumably slots in for Loudoun. Antonio Bustamante went 90 midweek and if he is available, I would imagine it’s in reserve. If so, Nelson Martinez (suspended Wednesday due to yellow card accumulation) can slot in centrally either at midfield or at center back next to Harri Hawkins, as Collin Verfurth also went 90 Wednesday.
Starters: Earl Edwards Jr.; Alexxon Saravia, Collin Verfurth, Harri Hawkins, Robby Dambrot; Nelson Martinez, John Murphy; Sinclair, Alexis Cerritos, Yow; Amoh
Bench: Calle Brown, Connor Presley, Bustamante, Carlos Alvarez, Andrew Lubahn, Christian Sorto, Murphy
Key Birmingham player: Steven Miller
North Carolina has played fine since Yamkani Chester torched Loudoun for a second half brace en route to a 3-0 July 17. They’ve won 4 of their subsequent 7 and a 1-0 road loss to Louisville snapped a three-game win streak. While Dave Sarachan may not have Chester this time, Miller leads the team in goals (9) and assists (6) and with either Andre Fortune or Ben Speas in the middle, he continues to be dangerous, earning a Team of the Week nod for his work in the Louisville game. To be clear, whomever plays centrally should be watched, but Miller has been tricky all year.
Referee: Thomas Snyder
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What are you drinking?: Probably press box agua, with some sort of caffeine thrown in; I’ll have been watching my son all day and will need a jolt, and meth isn’t legal...yet!
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