Loudoun United finds the window to postseason glory closing rapidly, and following a stretch of four games against teams below the red line where they only won one, they hosted Nashville SC, who have already clinched a playoff spot behind the offense of Daniel Rios. Rios struck again Saturday night as Nashville rose into a tie for first with a 2-0 win over Loudoun in front of 2,012 at Segra Field.
Following Loudoun’s midweek win on Wednesday, Ryan Martin kept Antonio Bustamante, Griffin Yow and Gordon Wild (who recorded a hat trick) in the starting lineup, and 16-year-old Kevin Paredes made his professional debut after coming on as a substitute Wednesday. Paredes was not the youngest in the lineup as 15-year-old Moses Nyeman played centrally with Bustamante.
The first half saw Loudoun come out composed initially, then in the 19th minute, Ropapa Mensah fended off a challenge from Peabo Doue on the right side and his ball into the box was tapped in from Rios past Earl Edwards Jr. Rios’ goal was his 18th on the season (leading the Eastern Conference), and Nashville took the 1-0 lead into halftime despite conceding numbers in possession and passing, sacrificing both for a 5-2 shot lead.
Nashville had a more assertive start to the second half, and it paid off early as a cross to the right side of the field was headed away by Chris Odoi-Atsem, but Mensah gathered and fired a shot near the end line, beating Edwards for a 2-0 lead that would ultimately be the game.
“You don’t say much in the losing effort, but [I’m] just really proud of the group to be honest. That [Nashville] is a team going to MLS and what they’re trying to do is significant...We played some very good soccer at times, very good attacking stuff, and [we] just need to be a little bit better in a couple of areas, but I’m proud of the group.”
Loudoun (7-17-6, 27 points) host Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (whom Nashville are tied with) Tuesday at 7:30pm at Segra Field.