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Despite road trip, Loudoun United ‘thankful’ to be back to playing soccer

The team faces the familiar extended road trip, but with a new backdrop of Covid to plan for.

Xavi Dussaq / Courtesy of Loudoun United

One week before Loudoun United resumes their 2020 season, Ryan Martin looks forward to the restart, if nothing else because those who were unable to join the team before the pre-Covid lockdown are able to be ready and available for the restart of the USL Championship season.

“We were kind of in a weird situation where we had a number of guys that we had signed in different ways, but (they) didn’t get their visa until recently, like Massimo Ferrin, a winger for us, he’s a very good player. We have a young kid out of Nigeria coming in, Kairou Amoustapha, who is another great story and he’s in the States right now and preparing for the first game, so you know I think we have some interesting pieces.”

Defender Peabo Doue added that the team was in a good physical place when the players returned to training. “Obviously it’s good to be in a place where we can we can have a foundation in terms of fitness, (but) we’ve all agreed that there’s still things to do that we can improve and you know we just we have high standards for where we want to be as a group,” Doue said. “I wouldn’t say where we’re behind or anything like that, I just think we’re continuing to strive to be as sharp as we can and as fit as we can. And also as mentally strong as we can, I think it’s been good to have the guys back in the small groups because Ryan can actually focus on each group and focus on the defenders, the offensive side of things and attacking side of things without having to kind of split training. I think a lot of the guys follow the fitness, and we look like we haven’t been just chilling on the couch.”

Initially when training began as a small group before evolving to larger groups and eventually full training, protocols to monitor Covid-19 made for an awkward adjustment for the players before the routines that they had not had for months kicked in.

“Well, it’s been a little weird, our protocols are basically we go through the back and then we put our mask on,” midifielder Ted Ku-DiPietro says. “And then we get our temperatures, then we go. It was honestly really weird not being in a whole team training, whether it’s in regards to how people act, or how they train, or if, like how Ryan was treating us or talking to us, it was a lot more personal. But the difference between 4 and 10, like the 10s felt like a lot more normal obviously because we have around 24 players. For my group at least we’ve been doing finishing and stuff, and the more we normalize our trainings the more comfortable I feel within the setting of it all.”

“You (had) to walk in and go through all the different protocols that you weren’t used to before, but it’s still good to just see people in person, the same people that you’ve been seeing on Zoom for months now,” forward Michael Gamble said. “It’s a little different, I want to dap each other up or say Hi, but back to being around the guys and the banter and just enjoying that again is really exciting.”

Protocols exists for fans to return to games as well, and with Loudoun being on the road for five of their first six games (and seven of their first ten), Martin looks forward to the trip and to the games.

“We know that game management is going to be a big part of the games, (and) we know that they’re going to be tight games because nobody’s had a proper preseason, so it’s going to come down to just the details and the small nuances of the game. And the biggest thing that for us, I know I’ve told them it’s like okay we’ll go (on the road), but the reality is be thankful that we’re playing, we could drive up 95 and play in a parking lot right now. So be thankful for the opportunity has given to us whether it’s home, whether it’s away, it’s a game, an escape and I think the passion and the fight of the guys will come out (next Monday) on ESPN.”