Loudoun United was handling themselves well over the last couple of games against formidable road opponents, but ultimately that have not been able to buy breaks even if they were marked down on Amazon Prime Day. In the hopes of landing another road win and slaying the dragon that is the Hartford Athletic, they worked their way back into position to get a point on the road before a brief weather delay, the relocation of the Hartford supporters, and a relentless attack after play resumed, culminating in a 95th-minute goal for a 2-1 loss, one week after an 85th-minute goal in Florida that resulted in a separate 2-1 loss.
Now, they move to a place where they had a surprising road win in their first year, facing a Charleston team that had one day of training following a Wednesday night 3-0 road loss to Charlotte. If there was a team primed for the taking, Ryan Martin could turn this bunch to them.
Key player: Jovanny Bolivar
Bolivar has 3 goals (leading the team) but showed his distribution side a little more last week with 4 created chances, bumping his total up to 9, and his 20 shots put him in a tie for 6th in the USL. As we’ll get into in a second, there may be a few more weapons available for whomever the chance creator can be, and if the second half of last week (before the lightning came) is any indication, Bolivar could be at the focus of a few of them tonight.
Location: Patriots Point Soccer Complex (Charleston, SC)
Kickoff time: 7:00 pm Eastern
Projected Loudoun starting 11/who D.C. is loaning: D.C. United announced they were loaning Kimarni Smith to Loudoun Friday, and he joins Bolivar, Michael DeShields and Jacob Greene in a homecoming of sorts for Smith after playing at Clemson.
More than that, Smith adds an intriguing layer of depth for Ryan Martin. He hasn’t gotten any competitive minutes in six weeks so we’ll see what he’s ready for, but I imagine he could start next week (Loudoun hosts Pittsburgh next Wednesday), so Martin has Smith on the left side and Bolivar who had the goal in last week’s loss to Hartford in up top, with Kairou Amoustapha on the right side. Martin had been going with a 3412 the last couple of games, maybe Darluis Paz gets the first starting nod and could go in the middle or they go 343 to use the speed and bewilder the Battery. There is a little versatility there and we haven’t touched on Ted Ku-DiPietro yet.
Along with that, Jermaine Fordah and Keegan Meyer have turned in decent outings that have both had late game-winning goals and Save of the Week nominees (Meyer won two weeks ago), so it will be interesting to see how much Martin tries to go at the jump here.
Starters: Meyer; DeShields, Timmy Mehl, Robby Dambrot; Greene, Ku-DiPietro, Jeremy Garay, Gaoussou Samake; Amoustapha, Bolivar, Paz
Bench: Fordah, Wahab Ackwei, Logan Panchot, Abdellatif Aboukoura, Landry Houssou, Smith, Sammy Sergi
Key Charleston player/former D.C. players: Zeiko Lewis
I mentioned Lewis as the one to watch when Loudoun played the Battery two and a half weeks ago, and he had the assist in the game-winning goal at Segra to boot, since then I don’t see any reason to stop now. Team leader in the major attacking categories? Yep, DeShields will have his hands busy and should be wired for sight and sound.
Referee: Not announced as of Friday night.
Available streaming: ESPN+ (click to subscribe to ESPN+, and your friends at B&RU get a little bit of cash!)
What are you drinking?: The bottle shop near me got in some Other Half, so I may have Mosaic Dream or something?
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