Following a month where Loudoun United did not allow a goal through all three March matches, things have found the Red-and-White with the shoe on the other foot in April, with the team failing to score in 284 minutes, dating back to a 3-0 win over New York Red Bulls II.
There is a minor stipulation to be made, as two of the shutouts Loudoun experienced were to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds and Louisville City, the latter of whom has allowed only one goal in seven games across two competitions. Coach Ryan Martin is aware of his recent opposition as well and discussed it at training Wednesday.
“When you do play against teams like that, you get tested to see where you are,” Martin told B&RU. “We thought we were pretty good against Pittsburgh in the first 60 minutes or so. And last weekend (against Louisville) was tough, first team guys coming down, where are they in terms of their match fitness, so there’s a lot of different components to take into account. But it was great, because we learned a lot about ourselves.”
“Rough patches happen in a season,” captain Rio Hope-Gund responded. “We have to just get in the mindset of learning from those patches versus just putting our heads down. We’re looking forward to this weekend, everybody’s hungry, everybody has something to prove, and that works in our favor.”
“You’re going to go through ebbs and flows where things fall for you, sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t, but we stick to what we do and keep working here and everything’s going to turn out well,” Sami Guediri said.
Past the weekend, Martin has more integration between Loudoun and D.C. players coming, as D.C. United begin their 2022 U.S. Open Cup campaign next week against Flower City Union, expecting as many as five recalls to D.C. for the game, but it’s a pain he’s willing to live with. “This is what it’s for, if you’re going to miss training and go play in the Open Cup, that’s awesome,” Martin said. “Go and prove yourself and get that contract. Will we be thin? Yeah, but it’s a great opportunity for other guys to step into it. I’ve been dying to get Houssou (Landry) a start, so this weekend I’ll think he’ll probably get the run.”
Over the course of the morning, Jackson Hopkins was announced as D.C. United’s latest homegrown signing, the ninth signing that has come through Martin’s Loudoun tutelage to sign a pro deal. As their former Academy director and coach, Martin is keenly aware of D.C.’s youth development aspect, but has included current professional players into the fold like Guediri (an early revelation for the League after his contract option was declined by Inter Miami), players with something to prove to their new and former clubs.
“I had an hour long conversation before we signed him just to see where he was, because any time you get released from an MLS team, you have to figure it out. I wonder where people are mentally, and he was like ‘No, I want to get back, I know I can get back, I believe I can get back.’ Last year, we had five people move up, and people saw that as a stepping stone. So for Sami, Rio and Grant (Lillard), we probably don’t have this conversation a year ago, quite frankly. And now we’re in a better spot where there is a pathway, and he fits the profile of what we’re looking for.”
“It’s not even April 15, (so) we have six months to go. If you ask me who wins the League, I couldn’t tell you, so much will change between now and October. All we have to do is get better for Oakland this weekend.”