The last three games for Loudoun United haven’t been bad from a high-level perspective; they defeated an organizational rival in the New York Red Bulls II, allowed a stoppage-time goal to a goalkeeper off a set-piece and the last game saw a questionable penalty before an eventual 2-0 loss to Atlanta United 2 where they were in control for large portions of the match. And four points from nine could very easily have been at least seven, which would put their fortunes in a different territory over this stretch of ‘winnable’ games from an outsider’s perspective. However, this one is going to be tough.
player concept: Get, and stay up for it
Sadly, Henry Rollins never did a video for that song so I can’t link to it, but tonight’s opponent Phoenix Rising, has finished no worse than third in the Western Conference, and a shootout loss in last year’s playoffs stopped back-to-back appearances in the semifinals or better. They routinely have led the USL in goals and/or shots over the last three seasons, and lead the league in shots this season thus far though relative to their Expected Goals For and Allowed are doing what they’re supposed to be doing. They have been dealing with injuries through long stretches of the season, and while they’ve started slowly in 2022, are no less dangerous nor should be taken lightly by the Red-and-White.
Location: Segra Field (Leesburg, VA)
Kickoff time: 7:30 pm Eastern
Projected Loudoun starting 11/who D.C. United is loaning: The latter is going to be generally threadbare; a couple of kids are with their U-20 national teams ahead of CONCACAF play, several loan downs are out due to Covid protocols, and others are with D.C. because of their injuries and/or pending outbound moves. Gaoussou Samaké is loaned down but doesn’t handle say, Jacob Greene’s wingback spot on the right, so this could be where Jace Clark comes into play. But things are set up for say, Skage Simonsen or Tyler Freeman’s return, and Kristian Fletcher is back as well from a brief U-20 stint with the United States.
Starters: Luis Zamudio; Jalen Robinson, Carson Vom Steeg, Grant Lillard; Clark, Nicky Downs, Houssou Landry, Sami Guediri; Michael Gamble; Abdellatif Aboukoura, Simonsen
Bench: Joe Rice, Samaké, Abdoul Zanne, Azaad Liadi, Freeman, Ousmana Diarra, Fletcher
Key Phoenix player/former D.C. players: Santi Moar
Phoenix is a loaded bunch; Greg Hurst came up from Omaha in League One and hasn’t missed a beat with Phoenix; Aodhan Quinn really picked things up in Orange City before coming to Phoenix and leading the League in created chances (36) this year; Moar started on the East Coach before moving to New Mexico in 2019 (11 goals) and moved to Phoenix in 2020 and 2021, the latter of which is where he rung up 16 goals. He hasn’t scored yet but he does lead the team in shots in 22 which, by comparison, is as many as Loudoun’s top two players in the category. He’s going to get some chances.
Referee: Joshua Encarnacion
Available Streaming: ESPN+ (click to subscribe to ESPN+, and your friends at B&RU get a little bit of cash!)
What are you drinking?: Lots of water (I’m on a thing lately) until and through the game.
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