Loudoun United found themselves in the unfortunate position of being among the first teams to wrap their 2020 season due to multiple Covid cases among their protected squad, and now find themselves in the trivial position of being among the last teams to start their 2021 campaign, a break of more than 225 days between stop and start. The lack of preseason competition does not help either, as a mixture of players from USL League One teams, new international players and Academy kids are going to get thrown to the wolves early ahead of what’s expected to be a prepared and dangerous USL independent side in Miami FC.
Key player: Logan Panchot/Wahab Ackwei
In the recently signed Panchot and Ackwei, you have what will likely be the right side of your defense, so a college draft pick and a player fresh off a decent stint with the USL League One Richmond Kickers, going up against a Miami side that outscored them in 2020 but reloaded for this season with some capable veterans. How they react early and adjust as things go is going to be key for the Loudoun defense tonight and a lot of other nights between now and October.
Location: Riccardo Silva Stadium (Miami, FL)
Kickoff time: 7:30 pm Eastern
Projected Loudoun starting 11/who D.C. is loaning: Loudoun made the long-rumored official on Friday, adding Jovanny Bolivar from D.C., with the ability for him to be recalled at their discretion (he made the trip with the team). Depending on health, Michael DeShields might be another to watch in this area as well in the short term. Past that, Loudoun’s lineup depends on, well, Covid. Jay Fordah has been seeing most of the time in the preseason while Keegan Meyer and Drew Skundrich have been working with D.C. It’s unknown if those two have had to quarantine and thus miss this game, so I’ll assume that they’re out for the time being.
Starters: Fordah; Panchot, Ackwei, Timmy Mehl, Gaoussou Samake; Jeremy Garay, Nicky Downs; Kairou Amoustapha, Massimo Ferrin, Bolivar; Samson Sergi
Bench: Sebastian Conlon, Diego Gomez Ochoa, Hassan Pinto, Robby Dambrot, Tyler Gabarra, Ted Ku-DiPietro, Abdellatif Aboukoura
Key Miami player: Christiano Francois
Remember the former D.C. United, Maryland Terrapin, and Haiti international? Well, he reunites with his Ottawa coach Paul Dalglish, and has enough speed, and threatens for double-digit goals each season. He’ll serve to test this new backline when given the chance and will be a solid barometer for them. If you’re looking for former D.C. United alums, midfielder Lance Rozeboom will be another that makes a likely start.
Referee: As of (very late) 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?: Leaning towards Domina by Crooked Run. So I got a bottle of this to have Friday, and went to get some food, and as it turns out I was given a staff sample bottle, which had already been opened. So I eventually had it on my car’s floormats, not great! I was able to salvage what was still in the bottle and put it into a growler which I had, and thanks to profuse apologies and compensation, have a proper one to consume. Lots of funk in this refermented golden sour, and it was a treat to have even in improvised conditions.
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