Loudoun United’s common theme this year has been missed opportunity; Game 1 saw them handle a 75-minute man advantage and still falling short in a loss, Game 3 saw them with a similar advantage on the road and winning, and last week saw them timidly approach a fatigued Pittsburgh side, with a first-half that was forgettable en route to a 3-2 loss. Players and Coach Ryan Martin were disappointed with their squandering, and if there was a chance to do something about it, tonight may be the place.
Loudoun is home tonight, with a Charleston side that almost had to play LA Galaxy II Friday before weather postponed it, the Battery come into tonight not having played a game in more than two weeks, and are one of three winless teams in the USL. Loudoun goes on the road to play Tampa Bay (who just had a five-game winning streak snapped) Friday and Hartford (one of two unbeaten teams in the USL) next week, so that’s the top two teams in the Atlantic Division for the next two games. So this seems like a good place for Loudoun (in 6th) to beat Charleston (in 7th) and get some good momentum for the next ten days, particularly as they go to South Carolina to play this same Battery side in two and a half weeks.
Key player: Jeremy Garay
The D.C. United academy midfielder is slated to attend North Carolina State in the fall and appears to still be monitored by the first team for his work in central midfield. He manages to provide cover for the defense while finding players for counter opportunities and quietly goes about doing it, and may have found a new facet of his game. Here are some passing breakdowns for him since joining the team shortly after Martin came aboard in June 2019:
2019: 93.2% pass completion on 280 passes, 22 long passes, 72.1% completion, 1 assist and 5 created chances.
2020: 87.6% completion (2nd on team) on 517 passes (1st on team), 75 long passes, 64% completion, 1 assist, and 7 created chances.
2021: 88.5% completion on 253 passes (1st on team in both), 35 long passes, 77.1% completion, 12 created chances (5th in Eastern Conference).
Working with Ted Ku-DiPietro, Garay drops back but he still manages to deliver an accurate pass, a long pass more than in the past, but more than that, he manages to find his attackers more than in past years, and on a slightly vulnerable Battery defense this will be key.
Location: Segra Field (Leesburg, VA)
Kickoff time: 7:00 pm Eastern
Projected Loudoun starting 11/who D.C. is loaning: Jovanny Bolivar has scored goals in each of the last two games, and Jacob Greene came on as a substitute in last week’s game, so I imagine they both start, and presumably Michael DeShields does the same (or comes on as a sub) after logging 60 minutes at elevation two weeks ago and going almost 90 last week.
Past that? Robby Dambrot went 90 minutes for the first time in 21 months following shoulder surgery and positionally plays on the left side. It could give Martin the flexibility to play Dambrot as left-back, part of a four-man backline next to Wahab Ackwei on the left, with Greene and Timmy Mehl on the other side (Martin noted their in-game tactical flexibility in last week’s game). Or they stick with the 343 and whoever doesn’t start today starts Friday at Tampa. The attacking part is largely the same cast, given that Amoustapha is with the Niger National Team (who plays Congo later today), I’d have to imagine Darluis Paz makes his starting debut.
Starters: Jermaine Fordah; DeShields, Mehl, Ackwei; Greene, Ku-DiPietro, Garay, Gaoussou Samake; Bolivar, Samson Sergi, Paz
Bench: Noah Abrams, Dambrot, Logan Panchot, Landry Houssou, Abdellatif Aboukoura, Tyler Gabarra, Massimo Ferrin
Key Charleston player/former D.C. players: Zeiko Lewis
He doesn’t count as a D.C. player per se, but if I don’t include former Maryland Terp Ben Di Rosa here, Jason may throttle me. With that out of the way, Lewis has led the Battery in goals each of the last two seasons, racking up 14 over 44 games, and has 1 of the team’s 3 goals so far this year. More than that, he also leads the team in created chances with 86 over 47 games. Playing centrally while occasionally flaring to the right side, the Bermuda international is dangerous and one to watch. The Battery may be winless but that doesn’t mean they’re not dangerous; coach Michael Anhaeuser is a fixture for the organization, managing the club for more than 15 years and with the organization as a player or assistant coach for an additional decade; they’re going to be prepared.
Referee: As of Monday 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?: Well no free food for press this week, so I’ll get all my liquid in before driving down. Water water everywhere!
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