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Rio Grande Valley FC vs. Loudoun United 2021: Time, TV schedule and how to watch USL Championship online

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Loudoun heads West to try and restart their offense.

Courtesy Loudoun United

Loudoun United has had their fair share of entertainment when they fly over the Mississippi River to play a soccer game or two; 2019 saw the team play at Sporting Kansas City II (then Swope Park Rangers) where coach Ryan Martin’s Loudoun coaching debut saw the pro debut of Moses Nyeman to the squad (and the emergence of Bryang Kayo) in a wild 3-2 win; earlier this season the team’s longest road trip in their short history saw them hang on to beat New Mexico United 1-0 in a game almost 2,000 miles from Segra Field. Now they head to Edinburg, Texas, almost 1,800 miles away and 17 miles from the United States/Mexico border, to play a Rio Grande Valley FC side in a game that Martin joked could almost serve as an intrasquad scrimmage. More on them in a minute.

Key player concept: Finish them!

It’s been no secret how many pixels I’ve dedicated to Loudoun’s underperforming their expected goals total, and then recently I re-discovered at least some organizational consistency when it comes to underperforming. Consider (all via American Soccer Analysis as of Friday afternoon) the following:

D.C. United

Expected Goals For: 33.27 (Fifth among MLS teams), Expected Goals Against: 21.34 (4th), HOWEVER, actual goals allowed is 27, and their actual goal differential versus their expected is -4.93, or fifth-worst in MLS. If they realized their actual (30) versus expected points (38), they’d be battling Nashville SC and New York City FC for the lead in the Eastern Conference.

Loudoun United:

Expected Goals For: 33.23 (Eighth among USL teams), Expected Goals Against: 33.88 (sixth-worst in the USL), HOWEVER, actual goals for is 18, worst in the East, leading to an actual versus expected is -17.35, the third-worst in the last three years of ASA stats, a hair behind second (-18.85), and an outside chance to eclipse Colorado Springs’ 2019 number of -28.48. Loudoun, with 10 points on the season, would have 25 if their chances were finished.

Last week’s loss to the Tampa Bay Rowdies added a cruel wrinkle to things when Timmy Mehl was unable to bury a penalty kick to halve the Rowdies lead early in the second half. Loudoun’s final third inefficiency has officially bled over to the spot, as they failed to convert a PK for the 4th time in 5 chances.

tl;dr Someone’s gotta take the ball by the scruff of the neck and get all Mortal Kombat already!

Location: HEB Park (Edinburg, TX)

Kickoff time: 8:30 pm Eastern

Projected Loudoun starting 11/who D.C. is loaning: Getting the easy ones out of the way, Kimarni Smith, Michael DeShields, Jacob Greene, and Jovanny Bolivar should be expected back. Joining them is Griffin Yow, owner of 1 start and 156 total MLS minutes in 2021. From the game two weeks ago, Greene and Smith went 90 while Bolivar went 70. DeShields went 45 and looked OK, and would probably start along with the others.

Yow’s addition provides a wrinkle in attack; typically Loudoun goes with a 3412 or 343, the last game had Ted Ku-DiPietro behind Smith and Bolivar. Bolivar can drop back so Yow could play as a forward; Landry Houssou and Nicky Downs have been holding their own in central midfield the last couple of games so I imagine Martin wouldn’t want to drop one of them (unless it’s for Jeremy Garay), and it seems like the likely option unless Griffin Yow, wingback is in the cards.

Starters: Jermaine Fordah; DeShields, Timmy Mehl (C), Alexxon Saravia; Greene, Houssou, Downs, Yow; Ku-DiPietro; Bolivar, Smith

Bench: Keegan Meyer, Matt Di Rosa, Hassan Pinto, Robby Dambrot, Garay, Darluis Paz, Sammy Sergi, Kairou Amoustapha

Key RGV player/former D.C. players: Rodrigo Lopez

Lopez was the first signing for the Sacramento Republic FC back in 2014 and is a reliable chance creator that will get his forwards involved in numerous attacks, with 39 created chances clocking in at 6th in the League. RGV coach Wilmer Cabrera is familiar for his tenure at the Houston Dynamo, Montreal Impact and Chivas USA, while RGV has a familiar D.C. name (Carter Manley played for Minnesota United and was a trialist for D.C.) and several with MLS tenure, including Tyler Deric (90 with Houston), Juan David Cabezas (48 with Houston), Vicente Sanchez (76 with Houston and the Colorado Rapids), and recently added Andres Flores (115 with the New York Cosmos and Portland Timbers).

As to the intrasquad scrimmage thing? Well, Elvis Amoh (last year’s goalscoring leader with Loudoun) leads RGV in goals scored (7), James Murphy, older brother of John (who played with Loudoun in 2019) is with RGV and is tied with Lopez for the team lead in assists with 5, Christian Sorto played with Loudoun in 2019 and 2020 and has 3 goals and 4 assists with RGV, Alexis Cerritos played with Loudoun in 2019 and has a goal and assist this year with RGV, Deric’s backup is Colin Miller, who also played with Loudoun in 2019 and 2020. All told, Cabrera’s side may be above the playoff line in the Mountain Division, in 3rd with 29 points, but they are winless in their last five (losing four) and have won one of their last eight, or as many as Loudoun have won over the same span.

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?: I was going to get some beer Friday night until my neighbors had some visitors! I may try again in the morning, or pull out a couple years old lambic from 3 Fonteinen a friend gave me, that I was planning to drink soon anyway.

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