The benefits of a win can be pretty cleansing. When you’re Loudoun United, who have been snakebit at various points over the course of the 2021 season, when you win at home for the first time since October 19, 2019, you can’t help but feel disproportionately happy, and they high-fived and celebrated for a bit after the final whistle, and they couldn’t be blamed for it.
But in talking to some of them Wednesday night, they had the believe that they were better than their record indicated, so now that they’ve put the skid to rest (for now), they go up against a team whom they should have had points on already, in a Hartford side whose only win over the last three games was on a 95th-minute goal after a weather delay, so I guess Loudoun is 1-1 in weather delays now! Kidding aside, Loudoun knows they can run with Hartford this season and they also have a little bit of confidence, and for the second time in less than a week (Wednesday’s win over Pittsburgh was the first), on Independence Day they could go for another win over a team whom they have not beaten in their first seven games.
More than that, a win could get them out of the Atlantic Division basement, putting them over the New York Red Bulls II on wins, and five points from the Division red line.
Key player: Ted Ku-DiPietro
In front of family and friends Wednesday night, Ku-DiPietro played centrally while flaring out on the right, had a rocket of a goal for his career third, but more than that had 65 passes completed for 86.2% accuracy (both numbers second to recent D.C. United homegrown signing Jeremy Garay), won 13 of 17 duels, had two chances created, two tackles, three interceptions and generally was all over the place. He’s going to need to be a big part of the picture if they want to get 2 in a row.
Location: Segra Field (Leesburg, VA)
Kickoff time: 5:00 pm Eastern
Projected Loudoun starting 11/who D.C. is loaning: The usual quartet of Michael DeShields, Jacob Greene, Kimarni Smith, and Jovanny Bolivar remain the same, with the first three going for about an hour Wednesday before coming off, presumably to be ready for tonight. Bolivar may be a bench option if things stay close or if the team needs a goal.
The team’s Friday afternoon addition of forward Giovanni Montesdeoca proves to be an interesting one. The 22-year-old was drafted by FC Dallas in this year’s MLS SuperDraft and was unable to land a deal with their League One Affiliate, but showed enough promise in playing with North Carolina that he earned Second Team Best XI honors by Top Drawer Soccer (and third-team All-America honors), and coach Ryan Martin’s comments about Gio reflect a linkup potential to the forwards. If he shows a little bit of this the long term benefits for the club will improve. Whether it does it from the jump or not (this is Loudoun’s 3rd game in 8 days) remains to be seen.
Starters: Jermaine Fordah; DeShields, Timmy Mehl, Robby Dambrot; Greene, Ku-DiPietro, Jeremy Garay, Gaoussou Samake; Kairou Amoustapha, Smith, Darluis Paz
Bench: Noah Abrams, Logan Panchot, Owen Walz, Abdellatif Aboukoura, Landry Houssou, Montesdeoca, Bolivar
Key Hartford player/former D.C. players: Juan Carlos Obregon
Danny Barrera remains one to watch as per usual, but Obregon is tied with Barrera on goals (4) and has more shots (14) than Barrera (12) in 150 fewer minutes. The 22-year-old forward is also notable for his contributions to the Honduras national team, helping to eliminate the United States during Olympic qualifying, and was named Friday to the catrachos roster for the Tokyo games. He can get by the backline and has good finishing skills, and will be another weapon to watch for the opposition.
Referee: Jeremy Scheer
Available streaming: ESPN+ (click to subscribe to ESPN+, and your friends at B&RU get a little bit of cash!)
What are you drinking?: Feels like seltzer or a tea thing before the game and frantic drive home for fireworks with the fam.
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