10 months to the day when Loudoun United played their last game at Segra Field (a 7-3 thumping of the New York Red Bulls II), they are back to play at the Leesburg field. Many things have happened since then; the changes in personnel for Loudoun’s squad, the infusion of more local youth talent and the circumstances which caused the shutdown of in-person sports. Loudoun’s game tonight will be the largest sports event to have fans, albeit at a limited capacity; if you are going to the game, a reminder of the protocols for entry in and navigation around the stadium can be found here. But the challenge for Loudoun remains the same, to continue momentum from the team’s most recent win last Wednesday against the Baby Bulls, and try to do something tonight against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC.
Going into the restart of the season, the Riverhounds were a prohibitive favorite for Group F and despite the performance of Hartford Athletic that has them on top of the Group, the Hounds are well-positioned for a run provided they advance out of the Group. While indications appear to be that the Hounds will do some rotation following last week’s road loss to Indy Eleven (and ahead of a marquee matchup with St. Louis FC Saturday), make no mistake a rotating Hounds team is still dangerous. Loudoun plays their 3rd game in 7 days and their 4th is Sunday against the aforementioned Hartford team; extending their win streak at Segra to 4 will help them out in a big way.
Key player: Nelson Martinez
I’m taking a reach on this, given that amongst he, Brandon Williamson and Jeremy Garay, he’s played the fewest minutes over the last week. But given that Pittsburgh’s offense remains fairly loaded no matter who they put out there (more on that in a minute), Martinez is going to have to keep an eye on the Hounds’ point of attack (presumably League Assist leader Kenardo Forbes tonight) and try to disrupt how he can in the hopes that Loudoun’s offense can counter and break through against a fairly stout Hounds backline over the last couple of years.
Location: Segra Field (Leesburg, VA)
Kickoff time: 7:00pm Eastern
Projected Loudoun starting 11/who D.C. is loaning: With D.C. United playing Cincinnati on Friday, I doubt it not only for tonight, but also for Loudoun’s Sunday game.
Saturday’s loss to Louisville was notable for the fact that Loudoun brought 16 players to the game, including one goalkeeper (defender Timmy Mehl was the emergency keeper if circumstances arose). Loudoun also had Massimo Ferrin go down to injury in the 25th minute; early word from Ryan Martin appears to be a sprained MCL, out for a couple of weeks (Erumuse Momoh will fill in on the bench). Given that Kairou Amoustapha came in and played the remaining 65 minutes, as well as 80+ last Wednesday, I imagine he gets a break unless the situation merits.
Additionally, Ted Ku-DiPietro and Alioune Ndour were held out of Saturday’s game for precautionary purposes. They’re listed as probable today if they are ready to go, expect them to. Loudoun may have have two pro keepers in the near future as well; Simon Lefebvre (drafted by D.C. United with their 2020 first round pick) has his visa, completed his Covid quarantine and should be available for selection shortly, but expect Lorenzo Gordon to backup Colin Miller tonight.
Starters: Miller; Jacob Greene, Mehl, Shane Wiedt, Peabo Doue; Martinez, Brandon Williamson; Ku-DiPietro, Michael Gamble, Elvis Amoh; Ndour
Bench: Gordon, Adam Lundegard, Allexon Saravia, Jeremy Garay, Amoustapha, Momoh, Joshua Fawole
Key Pittsburgh player: Steevan Dos Santos
The 30-year-old forward from Cape Verde is averaging a goal every 80ish minutes, with his 4 over a paltry 325 minutes, or about half as much playing time as Forbes and Robbie Mertz. The Riverhounds lead the East in goals (18), and their conversion rate of 30% is far and away the highest in the League also; if there is something about the Hounds it’s that over performance can (should?) come back to haunt them down the road. But Dos Santos has known Coach Bob Lilley since playing for him in the Rochester Rhinos days and has scored double digit goal totals in 3 of the previous 4 seasons, and due attention should be paid by the Loudoun defense.
Referee: As of Tuesday night, not announced.
Available streaming: ESPN+ (click to subscribe to ESPN+, and your friends at B&RU get a little bit of cash!)
What are you drinking?: Over the weekend I had Ambrosia Apocalypse, a a fruit-salad inspired Imperial Berliner from Loudoun’s own Crooked Run Brewing. I was a little underwhelmed by the first version; this double one is nailed to a tee. They deliver to VA and DC and would strongly recommend for the end of summer on the chance the weather gets nice.
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