While Loudoun United is in a freefall of sorts with a winless streak now at five games, there have been moments where the team seemed to show some life before a bad break or two put them at the unfortunate end of a result. They played decently in last week’s game against Birmingham, between a missed penalty shout and an overly harsh red card, the 2-1 result seemed right though perhaps slightly unfair. Some players received some spells last week as well and others either return or make their first appearances tonight, so with a game against a winnable foe, the circumstances seem right for Loudoun to right the ship ahead of a stretch of equally winnable games in the hopes of starting a positive streak again.
player concept: Clicking on all cylinders early
Loudoun has made their big road trip of 2022 already when they went to Oakland a couple of weeks ago, and this time, El Paso’s nearly 2,000-mile trek will be the longest trip they make this season. El Paso’s points mark is lower than Loudoun’s, but the feeling around the club is that they’re starting to come together, allowing one goal in each of the last two games. Their actual vs expected goal differential is already -6.75, which shows things not bouncing their way to a degree given their Top 3 place in actual and expected Goals For totals, so Loudoun will need some returning players to help keep them on their heels (this is the first of three Locomotive games in seven days) in order to secure their first result of any kind since March 26.
Location: Segra Field (Leesburg, VA)
Kickoff time: 6v:00 pm Eastern
Projected Loudoun starting 11/who D.C. United is loaning: With Loudoun and D.C. on consecutive days last week, bringing Luis Zamudio up to D.C. Saturday and having him start Sunday was a no-brainer. Unless he knows someone that has a space-time portal, he’s in Columbus today, so Joe Rice will get the chance to make his Loudoun debut, a homecoming for the Fairfax native. After Hayden Sargis’ red card, he’ll have nothing to do so he may have gone to Columbus, along with Kimarni Smith based purely on numbers at forward. Jeremy Garay and Jacob Greene will be taking their usual places in the lineup.
The numbers also seem to open up a chance for D.C. draft pick Skage Simonsen to make his pro debut (following an injury of his own that delayed his 2022), though likely he’ll open on the bench. Rio Hope-Gund will presumably occupy Sargis’ spot, with Carson Vom Steeg on his right, and a minor quandary on the left; Grant Lillard returns from injury and Gaoussou Samaké comes down on loan, perhaps Lillard starts, Samake moves up to winger and Sami Guediri moves to the middle?
Starters: Rice; Vom Steeg, Hope-Gund, Lillard; Greene, Nicky Downs, Garay, Samaké; Tyler Freeman, Azaad Liadi, Guediri
Bench: Drew Hartman, Jace Clark, Houssou Landry, Abdoul Zanne, Simonsen, Zoumana Diarra, Isaac Espinal
Key El Paso player/former D.C. players: Diego Luna
Former 2014 signee Christiano Francois returns to the area for the Choo-choos, but Luna is the one to be wary of. The 18-year-old came through the San Jose Earthquakes’ Academy before moving to the Barcelona Residency Academy in Arizona when he was 15, and signed with El Paso last year. In addition, he has seen a couple of United States U-20 call-ups, most recently next to former D.C. player Kevin Paredes in March when the team played River Plate. There are a couple of other MLS veteran names on the squad including former Chicago Fire and Colorado Rapids player Luis Solignac and former Real Salt Lake player Sebastian Velasquez, but I’m leaning towards the sexy ‘see him before he moves abroad’ choice here, as he’s got the most potential of most any other young player in the USL.
Referee: Matt Franz
Available Streaming: ESPN+ (click to subscribe to ESPN+, and your friends at B&RU get a little bit of cash!)
What are you drinking?: Water and maybe a coffee drink of some sort, gonna be a long parental day for this guy ahead of it, with the older son at his own game several hours before.
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