Whether it is an opportunity lost for more points in the standings or the worst loss in the team’s short history (as in last week’s 5-1 drubbing in Hartford), Loudoun United coach Ryan Martin consistently cites being interesting the the response of his players in the following game. And following a strong early start, some old demons resurfaced for the squad as they lost a 2-1 heartbreaker to Memphis 901 FC in front of 1,209 at Segra Field.
The first half started productively for Loudoun, as Nelson Martinez connected a long ball to forward Kyle Murphy, who chipped the ball over Jeff Caldwell for Loudoun’s lead in the fifth minute. The goal, Murphy’s eighth on the year, set a new career high for the 26-year-old forward. Loudoun continued throwing chances at Memphis and Caldwell, putting the game’s first 11 shots towards him, with only 3 on target. Memphis found some confidence late in the first half, with Cam Lindley’s free kick challenging Earl Edwards Jr. to make a save. A collision between Harri Hawkins and Brandon Allen late in the half drew protests of a Memphis PK, but referee Jonathan Bilinski declined to make the call, despite hearing discussion from Lindley moments later.
Following an early and somewhat uneventful second half, in the 54th minute, former D.C. United draft pick Dan Metzger and current D.C. homegrown Griffin Yow traded shoves and eventually received yellow cards by referee Jonathan Bilinski. The card for the youngster would be foreboding, as four minutes later, Nelson Martinez came in late on a foul of Cam Lindley, drawing a yellow, his second after his first in the 34th minute. Five minutes after Martinez’ ejection, Memphis leveled the score when an Elliot Collier cross deflected off Harri Hawkins and past Earl Edwards Jr. Loudoun tried to find chances but were unsuccessful, and eventually in the 81st minute, Lagos Kunga put a cross on goal, and Brandon Allen redirected it past Edwards for the lead. Late in stoppage time, Joshua Morton appeared to foul Gordon Wild in the Memphis penalty area, but Bilinski ruled against a penalty kick and the points went for Memphis, who took 4 points from Loudoun in the team’s two matches, with goals after the 75th minute.
“I kind of felt like we went a little bit on the back foot,” Murphy said after the game. “We have a one goal lead, going down to ten men with 35 minutes left makes it pretty difficult, but we’ve got to manage the game better.”
“Last week wasn’t a great performance and we knew that, but we felt good about a lot of the things we did this week,” coach Ryan Martin said. “They did a really good job of getting us out of our rhythm, and some of the younger guys have to got to keep their heads and keep plugging away. That’s a better team than their record, but I also think they did a good job disrupting us as the game went along.”
Loudoun (6-14-6, 24 points, 15th in East) go on the road to play Bethlehem Steel FC Wednesday night at 7:30pm at Talen Energy Stadium.