Seeing Loudoun United win over the New York Red Bulls II Wednesday night 1-0 for their first three-point night in almost twelve weeks (coincidentally enough against the very same Baby Bulls side) was encouraging, but for as dismal or downright gutting as Loudoun’s last 90 days has been, the Red-and-White are at a point where they can right the ship, at least as much as they can right now. Starting from Wednesday’s game, four of Loudoun’s five games are against below .500 opposition (the fifth is one game about the mark), and three of those teams are in the bottom six of the USL Championship. There are some points out there that can get grabbed.
player concept: Use Wednesday’s effort more than the result for tonight
Look, it’s fun to win and fun to beat the Red Bulls in whatever shape they take, I get that. But past that there were a lot of players who responded in what was a prime scenario to do so. Several Loudoun players had played big minutes the night before in Capital Cup play, and weren’t available Wednesday, and others weren’t available at all. So you had guys like Jace Clark come in at halftime for an ailing Grant Lillard and play well. Abdellatif Aboukoura scored the only goal (and it was a great one) in the game. Speaking of Lillard, he played next to Carson Vom Steeg and Jalen Robinson, the latter of whom made his starting debut for Loudoun. Matias Yohanes made his second appearance of the year. Gavin Turner made his pro debut. That type of spirit should carry over to an Atlanta side that has given up the most goals in the League.
Location: Fifth Third Bank Stadium (Kennesaw, GA)
Kickoff time: 7:30 pm Eastern
Projected Loudoun starting 11/who D.C. United is loaning: Kimarni Smith and Jacob Greene return to Loudoun for tonight’s game, interestingly, Hayden Sargis does not, perhaps to injury, but that’s speculation. Jeremy Garay is with the El Salvador U-20 side, or was earlier in the week. Loudoun should expect Sami Guediri back in a bump for them offensively but they’ll need some help from the newer participants.
Starters: Luis Zamudio; Robinson, Vom Steeg, Lillard (C); Greene, Nicky Downs, Houssou Landry, Guediri; Aboukoura, Zoumana Diarra, Smith
Bench: Joe Rice, Rio Hope-Gund, Clark, Azaad Liadi, Abdoul Zanne, Alexander Dexter, Turner
Key Atlanta player/former D.C. players: Robbie Mertz
The former 2019 MLS draft pick of the Colorado Rapids returned home to play with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in 2019 and 2020 and thrived before moving to play with Atlanta last year. He’s found his footing this year and done well, leading (or in second) on the team in goals (3), assists (2), shots (16) and created chances (20). There may be a stray loan down or two from the parent club like Jackson Conway or Emerson Hyndman that may be worth watching, but Martin is familiar with Mertz after playing the Hounds several thousand times the last couple of seasons and should know what he can do.
Referee: Adorae Monroy
Available streaming: ESPN+ (click to subscribe to ESPN+, and your friends at B&RU get a little bit of cash!)
What are you drinking?: Well the brewery near my place is turning five, so maybe I’ll grab something from there to prep for this.
This is the place for all your pre-game, in-game, and post-game discussions.
(Black and Red United has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Black and Red United and SB Nation may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our guiding principles.)