On a night where the wind chill at kickoff was 13 degrees, the weather did not serve as a deterrent to Loudoun United opening Segra Field at its earliest point yet in a season. The red-and-white’s March opener was the first for the club and for the USL Championship this year, and they worked for a 1-0 win over Indy Eleven in front of 1,031 reported at Segra.
After numerous In the first lineup of 2022, Ryan Martin included four D.C. United loanees as starters (Jacob Greene, Hayden Sargis, Ted Ku-DiPietro, Kimarni Smith) while a fifth (Jeremy Garay) was on the bench. Of the starters, only Nicky Downs and Michael Gamble were the only Loudoun returnees as they faced an Indy side under former El Paso coach Mark Lowry for the first time.
Things were generally quiet until Ku-DiPietro and Smith reminded people of their talents late in the first half:
Smith’s goal would ultimately serve as the decider, as Indy tried to press, but managed only 2 shots in the second half (1 on target) to Loudoun’s 5.
“I’ve always enjoyed watching (Lowry’s) teams play, and we knew it was going to be a diamond of some variation,” Martin said after the game. “We were able to catch a couple of their preseason games and saw their personnel. It’ll take time for them to adjust to that system but with that that’s pretty much what we expected.”
“I (saw) Ted because he likes to drive with the ball and he loves doing it, I tried to make space for myself and kind of slide it home,” Smith said later.
On his captaincy, Hope-Gund said, “In preseason, I didn’t really have an idea of what it was going to be like, and maybe a week or two ago, (Martin) pulled me aside and asked if I could do the job and I said I’d be more than happy to, and it’s just been awesome. I take credit for being the captain, but everybody’s a captain on this team.”
“It kind of played out exactly as we thought it would,” Martin said. “We knew we were fit, we knew we really could get after them quite a bit, especially if we move the ball, and we scored a tremendous goal with Ted and Kimarni, so I thought overall we were pretty dominant on the night.”
The next game for Loudoun (1-0-0, 3 pts) is Saturday when they go on the road for the first time in 2022 to play New York Red Bulls II.
USL Championship Regular Season - Game 1
Loudoun United FC 1 (Smith 43, Hopkins (PKM 79))
Indy Eleven 0
Loudoun (3412): Luis Zamudio; Rio Hope-Gund (C), Hayden Sargis, Grant Lillard; Jacob Greene, Nicky Downs, Michael Gamble, Sami Guediri; Ted Ku-DiPietro (Jackson Hopkins 61); Azaad Liadi (Tyler Freeman 69), Kimarni Smith
Indy (442): Elliot Panicco; Alex McQueen, A.J. Cochran, Mechak Jerome, Noah Powder; Nicky Law (Raul Aguilea Jr. 90+3), Neveal Hackshaw (C); Bryam Rebellion (Sam Brown 62), Stefano Pinho; Aris Briggs (Palmer Ault 90+2), Justin Ingram (Jonas Fieldberg 62)
Loudoun - Greene 62, Hope-Gund 70, Lillard 84, Smith 90+5
Indy - Hackshaw 20, Briggs 87, McQueen 90 (RC)