Loudoun United found themselves last week with a game that they could have easily benefitted with a win from but sadly could not hold the lead and went down a man in an eventual loss to Memphis at Segra Field. Tonight they have the rare treat of playing both legs of this schedule in MLS stadiums, following getting a thrilling 3-3 tie with the Steel in May in Audi Field, they get to go to the Philadelphia Union’s stadium to play their USL affiliate. Like last week, they can very much still leapfrog a couple places in the standings with a win, with coach Ryan Martin citing this as a rivalry game in postgame comments last week, presumably Loudoun will be up for it.
Key player: Gordon Wild
Shout out to Kyle Murphy for setting a new career single season high in goals (8), but assuming he traveled, Loudoun’s second highest goal scorer is one to watch. Wild, like Antonio Bustamante, has to be a little more on the front foot tonight to secure three points for D.C., but Wild has been on a mini-tear, registering a goal or assist in 5 of Loudoun’s last 9 games since the beginning of August. If he can get going against the Steel, this should be positive.
Location: Talen Energy Stadium (Chester, PA)
Kickoff time: 7:30pm Eastern
Projected Loudoun starting 11: Bethlehem are hosting Loudoun, sandwiched in between away games last Saturday at Indy Eleven and this Saturday at the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Whereas Loudoun’s next game isn’t until next Wednesday at home with Swope Park. I’d imagine the Steel go with some rotation, and Loudoun runs most of their first choice players out. Additionally with D.C. United not having a game until Sunday night, there’s a possibility of Donovan Pines getting a spot appearance tonight. Griffin Yow and Antonio Bustamante traveled as well.
Starters: Earl Edwards Jr.; Connor Presley, Collin Verfurth, Harri Hawkins, Jacob Greene; John Murphy, Bustamante; Carlos Alvarez, Wild, Yow; Elvis Amoh
Bench: Calle Brown, Shane Wiedt, Peabo Doue, Jeremy Garay, Theodore Ku-DiPietro, Andrew Lubahn, Kyle Murphy
Key Bethlehem player: Zach Zandi
I took the liberty of asking Matt Ralph at Philly’s counterpart site Brotherly Game about who to watch on the Steel side, and Zandi’s name came up. His summation:
“Zandi has been a consistent performer throughout the season for the Steel and is incredibly the second oldest player on the squad at 23 despite being less than a year removed from college, where he starred locally at Villanova. Zandi’s movement with the ball, his decision making and his ability to pass accurately in tight quarters has made him a handful all season despite not showing up in the stat sheet with the goals he’s capable of scoring (he has just two goals and has added five assists). Lately, he’s been drawing a lot of contact in and around the box, setting the Steel up for dangerous set piece opportunities despite not getting a couple penalty shouts to go his way.”
Referee: Daniel Gutierrez
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?: Coffee of some sort? My day will start early and at the hospital, and unless I get a nap it’ll be necessary.
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