Loudoun United quietly played their best game of their inaugural season last week against a tough North Carolina team, and handled them easily in a 4-0 win. North Carolina did leave their goal and assist leader at home, so it remains to be seen how much of a convincing win this was, but you play who’s in front of you on the field, and Loudoun felt a pressure lift off their shoulders and now they get to play with some confidence. They play a Hartford team who has given up the most goals in the USL Championship and has the second worst goal differential in the league, but this is also the same Hartford Athletic who came to Audi Field in May and got their first win in League history over Loudoun, so we’ll find out how much of a trap this could be. But with a win and some help, Loudoun could finish the weekend at its highest point in the Eastern Conference to date.
Key player: Antonio Bustamante
Bustamante capped a busy August with a goal from Gordon Wild and another Team of the Week nod, scoring two goals and an assist in seven games. He’s had essentially a full week of rest as has Gordon Wild (two goals, two assists in August) and assuming both are ready, a confident Bustamante will be a necessity.
Location: Dillon Stadium (Hartford, CT)
Kickoff time: 4:00pm Eastern
Projected Loudoun starting 11: Well Yamil Asad was at the RFK Auxiliary Fields Friday and hasn’t been added to the 23 man roster, so he gets to make his debut next week at home presumably. With D.C. United off this week I’m expecting Bustamante and Wild to have made the trip along with Earl Edwards Jr.. Donovan Pines and Griffin Yow are out with the United States U-23 and U-17 camps, respectively.
Starters: Edwards; Connor Presley, Collin Verfurth, Harri Hawkins, Jacob Greene; Nelson Martinez, Moses Nyeman; Carlos Alvarez, Bustamante, Wild; Elvis Amoh
Bench: Calle Brown, Alexxon Saravia, Jeremy Garay, Orlando Sinclair, Christian Sorto, Andrew Lubahn, Kyle Murphy
Key Hartford player: Danny Barrera
Jose Angulo scored two against Loudoun in the May win, but he misses today due to a red card suspension. Barrera lines up on the right side of midfield and has created more chances (32) than Bustamante has (31), despite appearing in only 11 games this season. Sebastian Dalgaard and Wojciech Wojcik can score goals along with Alex Dixon, but if he's ready to go Barrera is dangerous.
Referee: Elvis Osmanovic
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?: I may be missing this one because it’s daytime and there is a potential toddler playdate at Quattro Goombas, a farmhouse brewery/winery near me. But we’ll see!
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