There were 133 days between Loudoun United’s March 7 game with the Philadelphia Union and their 3-1 loss to Hartford Athletic. Granted, they only had to wait 12 days between that game and tonight’s, but they have another break of nine days against the New York Red Bulls II, the start of a hectic schedule where the Baby Bulls are the first of eight games Loudoun has between August 12 and September 12 (when Loudoun hosts U2). Now that they have had some recent competitive minutes, against this same opponent, they have some confidence of not repeating the errors that plagued them last time.
“I think (that) there was a little bit of nerves with restarting the season,” defender Shane Wiedt told B&RU Friday. “I have the expectations that we’re going to do great and I think everybody else does, (so) moving forward I think we just need to come out and get the second balls and do the dirty work (so) we can move into our playing style and opening up and trying to pick apart Hartford.”
While Loudoun has not played too much early in the restart, there is a potential upside in that they’ll have more and more of an idea of the challenge at hand. Like last season, they have multiple games in hand on their opponents; short of a massive blowout they will finish no worse than 4th in the 5 team Group F. But a win, or even points against Hartford would inch them closer to the Baby Bulls, who play Wednesday, the first game of a 4 in 10 day stretch (at Loudoun is Game 3). Put succinctly:
Key player: Brandon Williamson
For reasons that may become self-apparent as you read, Hartford’s midfield and forward combinations are going to be of prime concern. Williamson’s first start was not bad, but to get the ball upfield, he and fellow former D.C. United Academy alum Jeremy Garay need to get balls upfield a little quicker, or get them to people who can, so that Hartford’s defense (playing their fifth game in 16 days) can get tested earlier and more often.
Location: Dillon Stadium (Hartford, CT)
Kickoff time: 7:00pm Eastern
Projected Loudoun starting 11/who D.C. is loaning: Doing the latter first:
Subject to change, but hearing that D.C. United won’t be loaning any players to Loudoun (who play Sunday night at Hartford) this week— Ryan Keefer (@reefa_k) July 29, 2020
Given that D.C. may have a return to play scenario, and their roster is smaller than Loudoun’s, I’d be kind of surprised if anything changed in that regard. Joshua Fawole (LCL) and Robby Dambrot (shoulder) remain out, with midfielder Gabriel Gomez and Academy defender Liam Moore being unavailable for selection. A couple of questions do exist, one being the health of Ted Ku-DiPietro; the midfielder came on at halftime of the last game with Hartford, only to come out 17 minutes later. As he was dealing with an injury before that game, I imagine he may not be ready to start, but would come on at halftime this time, again for Massimo Ferrin.
The other question is the condition of the African players who missed last game. Elvis Amoh was a pest for Hartford’s backline most of his night and drew the penalty (which he subsequently converted) for Loudoun’s first goal of 2020, I would imagine he goes again to start. Alioune Ndour’s can provide offense if he is ready. Kairou Amoustapha is a youth international from Niger whose athleticism alone would seem to give him a start over Christian Sorto, but Martin may choose to bring him aboard slowly and get a sub appearance.
Starters: Colin Miller; Joshua Greene, Adam Lundegard, Shane Wiedt, Peabo Doue; Jeremy Garay, Williamson; Amoustapha, Michael Gamble, Massimo Ferrin; Amoh
Bench: Lorenzo Gordon, Allexon Saravia, Timothy Mehl, Nelson Martinez, Ku-DiPietro, Sorto, Ndour
Key Hartford player: Danny Barrera
Last time we were here I talked about Ever Guzman making an impact, but he left at halftime after Hartford playing 3 nights before. Giving Guzman an Honorable Mention tonight, with Barrera’s 3 chances and assist terrorizing the Loudoun defense, and his 9 overall chances as 5th best in the East. Loudoun’s defense and their central midfield is going to need to be on their toes.
Referee: As of Saturday 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?: A choice of Prairie Ales releases: if Loudoun gives up an early goal, turning to high gravity stouts like Holiday Weekend or Corner Piece, if it stays close, I’ll go with Rainbow Sherbet. I have a coffee shop across the street that doubles as a bottle shop.
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