All the sample size statements in the world come from Loudoun United’s 1-0 win over Indy Eleven last week; the weather was cold, the opposition was learning their system under consequential time with a new coach, whatever. But having seen a lot more of this team than most others, 63% possession and 658 passes is nothing to sneeze at. The team (whom I’ll add was new and working together competitively for their first time as well) appeared confident and composed, impressing as a result. And as they were the first team to open Week 1, are the first team to open Week 2, this time against a familiar organizational foe, and look to repeat, if not improve on last week’s result.
player concept: Finding a second chance creator
Breaking news: the Red Bulls like to press, right? But something that kind of stuck out in last week’s win is the play of Sami Guediri, who rightfully earned a Team of the Week nomination for completing 78 of 96 passes, winning 11 of 18 duels, and 13 recoveries. He also quietly had 3 created chances, which (I think) led Loudoun players, yes, even Ted Ku-DiPietro. Guediri is going to have to hustle on both ends this week, and Loudoun’s need for a chance creator is going to have to come out, for a reason I’ll cover in a moment.
Location: MSU Soccer Park (Montclair, NJ)
Kickoff time: 1:00 pm Eastern
Projected Loudoun starting 11/who D.C. United is loaning: So Teddy KDP? He’s not with the loan downs this week. But the other ones (Hayden Sargis, Jacob Greene, Jeremy Garay, and last week’s game-winning goal scorer Kimarni Smith) are, and I imagine the same utilization will happen this week. The only potential change is perhaps Garay is ready to go and if so, gets a start, with presumably Jackson Hopkins slotting into Ku-DiPietro’s spot. On the other end, Azaad Liadi traveled with D.C., so either Tyler Freeman or Michael Gamble could start at forward, with Academy players Isaac Espinal and Gavin Turner traveling and rounding out the bench.
Starters: Luis Zamudio; Grant Lilliard, Sargis, Rio Hope-Gund (C); Guediri, Landry Houssou, Nicky Downs, Greene; Smith, Freeman, Hopkins
Bench: Luke Peacock, Jace Clark, Carson Vom Steeg, Garay, Gamble, Isaac Espinal, Gavin Turner
Key RB2 player/former D.C. players: Jordan Adebayo-Smith*
John Murphy (part of Loudoun’s 2019 squad), had a circuitous route to return home to New Jersey, winning a USL League One title with Union Omaha next to former D.C. player Conor Doyle. He plays centrally and wears the armband for the group.
While he leads the team in most attacking categories he’s not the focus here, and Loudoun may be dodging a bullet with Daniel Edelman and Jeremy Rafanello with the first team, Jake LaCava loaned to Tampa Bay, Omar Sowe in Scandanavia on loan, and Mandela Egbo in England. Loudoun will remember Smith from his Rowdies days (and is on loan from the club) and he scored the team’s only goal so far. The Baby Bulls are a slightly mixed bag early in the season so they may be sorting some things out still, and Edelman and Rafanello may still join the Baby Bulls, so I’m going with what I think I know here.
Loudoun faces their second new coach this week after Mark Lowry and Indy, as Gary Lewis (formerly the Academy Director for the Seattle Sounders) is the Baby Bulls coach, taking over for longtime coach John Wolyniec. Red Bulls II are already on their third game in 7 days, having brought two(!) substitutes to last Saturday’s loss to Miami, and Wednesday’s only goal against Atlanta United 2 last week was due to a defensive miscue, a game which saw them being up a man for almost 60 minutes in the Georgia rain. They may be ready to go, but how much they have in the tank in Week 2 remains to be seen.
Referee: Jervis Atagana
Available streaming: ESPN+ (click to subscribe to ESPN+, and your friends at B&RU get a little bit of cash!)
What are you drinking?: This game is conveniently timed for when my older kid has a post-lunch ‘quiet time’ and my younger kid may be napping, so I may sneak in something, but likely remains cold brew for the time being.
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