The last time Loudoun United hit the road, they played a formidable opponent (in New Mexico United) in front of a full-ish house (of almost 9,000) and following an early first half red card to the hosts, held on by their teeth to get their first points of 2021. They returned home and started slow in one game and had a defensive lapse in another, while still having issues in finishing their chances around the opposition’s net.
So they hit the road following a 1-0 loss to the Charleston Battery, and face a formidable opponent; the Tampa Bay Rowdies were last year’s Eastern Conference Finalist, and a surprise loss to Charlotte last week stopped their season-opening winning streak at 5 (their 15 points leads all USL Championship teams at the moment). They’ll also face a full-ish house too; the Rowdies are opening their doors up for full capacity tonight, and whether it’s knowing the odds are stacked against them, or seeing if they can channel their parent club’s thrashing of another Florida team in Florida a couple of weeks back, Loudoun hopes to right the ship tonight.
Key player: Sammy Sergi
The product of Broad Run High School is notable for scoring a goal in front of friends and family in his home debut with Loudoun, and has found his head and feet next to a soccer ball to put on net a few times early into Loudoun’s season. Which is great, as Loudoun has a body up front that can get midfielders come up the flanks and make things all the more dangerous.
Early on into this season, if you go over to Analysis Evolved’s interactive tables for Expected Goals (or xG), and based on his chances he should have almost four, which would almost certainly have made some sort of change to Loudoun’s current record of 1-4-0. Granted, Sergi’s getting used to playing with two players who are playing in a new league, in a new country, and playing the banger on the backline isn’t pretty. Hopefully, a little more of the kid who scored almost 30 goals over 67 collegiate games will emerge.
Location: Al Lang Stadium (St. Petersburg, FL)
Kickoff time: 7:30 pm Eastern
Projected Loudoun starting 11/who D.C. is loaning: Jacob Greene and Michael DeShields started Tuesday and went most of the way, Jovanny Bolivar came on as a second half substitute. I would presume that Bolivar starts from the jump tonight, with Greene and/or DeShields maybe seeing rotation out of the XI to catch their respective breath.
Starters: Keegan Meyer; Wahab Ackwei, Timmy Mehl, Robby Dambrot; Ted Ku-DiPietro, Nicky Downs, Massimo Ferrin, Gaoussou Samake; Bolivar, Sergi, Darluis Paz
Bench: Jermaine Fordah, Greene, DeShields, Logan Panchot, Barry Sharifi, Jeremy Garay, Landry Houssou
Key Tampa player/former D.C. players: Sebastian Guenzatti
Tampa signs guys from former MLS sides like Philadelphia Union guy Leo Fernandes or FC Cincinnati defender Forrest Lasso (or from other USL independents, landing Steevan Dos Santos from the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in the offseason), but the constant threat has been the 28-year-old whose last club was the New York Cosmos, scoring 29 goals over 52 games in 2019 and 2020, and already has 4 in the Rowdies’ first six games. On a loaded Rowdies team, he sets the pace.
Referee: As of Thursday 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?: It’s on the other end of the state, but they distribute up here so I’ll probably grab a sour or berliner from Tripping Animals Brewing, Doral’s finest.
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