For a few weeks now I’ve been bellowing about Loudoun United’s chance creation being surprisingly good, but finishing had been a sore spot. Going into Saturday’s game with the Tampa Bay Rowdies, they were logging the fifth-highest expected goals per game (1.70) in the USL Championship. Pretty good for a two-win team! Then they went out and lost 3-1 to the Rowdies. Not so good!
More than that, Loudoun’s expected goals for the game was a paltry 0.37, their worst of the season, overtaking their previous low of 0.44, which occurred the previous week in a 1-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. Loudoun’s dealt with a touch of turnover as the attacking significance of Jovanny Bolivar was recalled back to D.C. United and Erik Sorga came out to Leesburg, so now they have an idea of who’ll they’ll have going forward, and they face another independent group of capable veterans, who they’re not only familiar with, but have not scored a goal against in two games this season, and will need to snap out of their funk post haste. Less than 72 hours after that road game in Tampa, and between that and a home game with the surprising Colorado Springs Switchbacks.
player concept: Avoid the slow start
Loudoun played on the road the last two games, and in those games allowed opening goals in the first 10 minutes of the game. Against the Battery in Charleston at the end of June, they allowed a long-distance goal in the 16th minute. If you’re a ‘2’ team that’s playing a bunch of kids that does this frequently against the independent clubs, those clubs are usually stocked with veterans who know how to hold a lead and manage a game. The backline is going to need to be stout at home against a Charleston team while they may be in the bottom third of goals scored, their conversion rate shares the same number (16), which is in the top 10 of the USL. Stinginess needs to re-emerge tonight.
Location: Segra Field (Leesburg, VA)
Kickoff time: 7:00 pm Eastern
Projected Loudoun starting 11/who D.C. is loaning: I’d expect the same names more or less; Kimarni Smith and Jacob Greene went 90 Saturday, and the team essentially flew back Sunday morning and trained Monday, so if anything they may go on the bench. Erik Sorga came on at halftime Saturday and looked OK; he had a shot on target and provided the assist on Nicky Downs’ goal that brought Loudoun to 2-1, so he’ll presumably go from the jump. Michael DeShields is a question mark; he came off at halftime of Loudoun’s loss, but moments before halftime he came off grabbing his thigh and may be held out as a precaution, all the more so given it was his first appearance in three weeks, and Loudoun hosts Colorado Springs Saturday.
Speaking of that game and the past game, I’d expect some rotation tonight. The organization was eager to mention that D.C. homegrown midfielder Jackson Hopkins, who did not appear Saturday night. With these next two games at home, I’d expect he sees some amount of action tonight en route to a possible start, and Matt Di Rosa should probably return, with his twin brother Ben on the other side of the field the Di Rosa derby can now begin in earnest.
Starters: Jermaine Fordah; Owen Walz, Timmy Mehl, Di Rosa; Kairou Amoustapha, Landry Houssou, Nicky Downs, Gaoussou Samake; Michael Gamble; Erik Sorga, Paz
Bench: Keegan Meyer, Robby Dambrot, Ted Ku-DiPietro, Jeremy Garay, Giovanni Montesdeoca, Jackson Hopkins, Smith
Key Charleston player/former D.C. players: Nicque Daley
Daley got two past Jermaine Fordah the last time the two teams played, and scored the opener in Charleston’s 2-0 win over the Charlotte Independence Friday night. He was assisted by the ever-dangerous Zeiko Lewis (who is tied for 6th in the league in assists), but Daley and Stavros Zarokostas will be ones to watch.
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?: Probably water and lots of it (Loudoun’s on an Air Quality Alert and “Feels Like” temperature will be 93).
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