Almost seven months after they kicked off on a frozen, wind-marinated field, Loudoun United wraps up their 2022 campaign at Segra Field tonight, hosting Detroit City FC. Loudoun’s had their season decided a couple of weeks ago and, well, the life of an MLS affiliate is full of fluidity, with last-minute recalls and loandowns that leave coach Ryan Martin trying to meet several goals simultaneously, and he’s seemed to accomplish those quite nicely. Consider that since this time last year:
- Six players (4 from the Academy) went from playing with Loudoun to signing with D.C. United,
- Three Loudoun pro players moved to independent USL Championship sides,
All the while, coaching one of the youngest sides in club football well, anywhere:
Tonight he gets a chance to match the team record in home wins (7) by playing a Detroit side preparing for the playoffs. While I understand and appreciate the urge said in some places that Loudoun should field a competitive side, I’d also counter this to say that they can as much as organizational goals allow (check out the New York Red Bulls and Atlanta United sides in the bottom of the Eastern Conference for example), while also given the professionals on their roster a chance to find better outlets for themselves should they avail themselves.
player concept: Build on what’s existing out there
Adding onto the team stuff off the field, two Loudoun players are new single-season record holders in assists (Skage Simonsen, 7) and clean sheets (Luis Zamudio, 7), while Tyler Freeman’s eight goals lead the team and has an outside shot at becoming the first to score double digit goals for Loudoun since Kyle Murphy (13) and Gordon Wild (11) did it in 2019; it should be noted Freeman, who’s battled injury this season, is scoring at a rate of 122.8 minutes per goal; by comparison Eastern Conference goalscoring leader Philip Goodrum (16) is at 122.1 minutes per goal, and golden boot leader Milan Iloski (21) in Orange County is at 120.2. Freeman turns 20 just after the New Year, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him and Zamudio get re-signed and/or get long preseason looks with D.C.
Location: Segra Field (Leesburg, VA)
Kickoff time: 6:30 pm Eastern
Projected Loudoun starting 11/who D.C. United is loaning: Jeremy Garay returns from international duty with El Salvador, while Jacob Greene and Kristian Fletcher come down, while Kimarni Smith and Matai Akinmboni appear to have made the flight to Montreal with D.C., along with Ted Ku-DiPietro. Dane Jacomen had an impressive outing in his USLC debut despite the loss so he may get another turn or Zamudio could see the run, and Gavin Turner may be poised to make his first start at Segra.
Starters: Luis Zamudio; Greene, Jalen Robinson, Carson Vom Steeg, Rio Hope-Gund; Houssou Landry, Nicky Downs; Turner, Simonsen, Zoumana Diarra; Tyler Freeman
Bench: Dane Jacomen, Garay, Azaad Liadi, Zoumana Diarra, Abdellatif Aboukoura, Jonathan Benteke, Fletcher
Key Detroit player/former D.C. players: Antoine Hoppenot
Fairfax native Joe Rice was loaned to Detroit but stayed there ahead of the game, but past that, the leader in created chances in the East should be an easy pick. The former Philadelphia Union draft pick helps find Pato (eight goals) for a source of offense, while New Zealand international Declan Wynne is solid in defense and attack. Nate Steinwascher’s 11 clean sheets would be impressive if Matt Van Oekel and Louisville weren’t in the same conference and he’s a low-key Best XI in the Conference. The Segra final won’t be easy for the Red-and-White.
Referee: Alyssa Nichols
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’m not completely sure; I’m writing this Friday night and my oldest took a bump on the head; probably have to go through concussion protocol or whatnot to see if I can go.
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