While Loudoun United played to a scoreless draw in the third week of last season, throughout 2019 they remained a team that let in goals at inopportune moments, with 65 allowed being the eighth worst last season. Aware of this, Coach Ryan Martin wanted to work on the defense while building team chemistry in the preseason, and obtaining a 0-0 draw with the Philadelphia Union II in Week One was ultimately a satisfactory result in front of 467 at Subaru Park.
Martin’s transformation of the Loudoun lineup continued; the only player to make an appearance at both opening kicks so far being team captain Peabo Doue, with two USL Academy players (Jeremy Garay and Adam Lundegard) starting while a third (Lorenzo Gordon) made the bench. D.C. United homegrown players Moses Nyeman and Kevin Paredes started, and Ted Ku-DiPietro and Brandon Williamson, who also have recent Academy ties, made the bench.
A quiet first half saw Loudoun with a scoring chance, but Doue’s cross to Alioune Ndour was headed at U2 keeper Matt Freese. Loudoun keeper Colin Miller had little to do in the first half, save for a stoppage time ball near the Loudoun net that the backline miscommunicated on, and resulted in a clearance. Issa Rayyan came on at halftime for U2 and got around Doue for a chance that was cleared, and later a Jeremy Garay foul that resulted in a U2 free kick was sent just wide by Jack De Vries. Later in the second half, Nyeman was able to get past Benjamin Ofeimu, but Dante Huckaby thwarted a possible shot on goal. U2 had the best chance of the night in the 90th minute as Zach Zandi got the ball into the area after Miller overcommitted, but Yomi Scintu’s shot at an open net hit the post. That would end things for both clubs moments later.
“I think we’re pretty happy with the shutout,” Martin said. “Some individual performances were very good, collectively things were just a little bit off which you see as you head into a new season. A little better execution in the final third [and] we probably walk away with three points.”
Miller, who finished with three saves en route to his first shutout as a professional said, “I think I’m only one guy out there out of 11 so I think that anytime that I get a shutout, it’s a team shutout, the guys in front of me made me look good.”
“To be honest, the team has come together a lot quicker than I thought they would,” Martin said. “You’ll continue to see that get stronger and stronger as we go through the year. I’m actually kind of excited that we’re on the road for a couple of weeks in a row because it gives us a chance to grow together. There’s enough out there that we come away pretty encouraged.”
The next game for Loudoun (0-0-1) is at Atlanta United 2 on March 21 at 5:30pm.
MLS Regular Season - Game 2
Philadelphia Union II 0
Loudoun United FC 0
U2 (442): Matt Freese; Nathan Harriel (Issa Rayyan 45), Benjamin Ofeimu, Dante Huckaby, Tyger Evans; Axel Picazo (C), Cole Turner, Luis Flores (Jack McGlynn 62); Jack De Vries (Zach Zandi 70), Yomi Scintu, Shanyder Borgelin
Loudoun (4231): Colin Miller; Alexxon Saravia, Shane Wiedt, Adam Lundegard, Peabo Doue (C); Jeremy Garay, Moses Nyeman; Elvis Amoh (Ted Ku-DiPietro 45), Michael Gamble (Brandon Williamson 76), Kevin Paredes; Alioune Ndour (Josh Fawole 57)
U2 - Turner 59, Ofeimu 85, Turner 87
Loudoun - Saravia 45+3