Loudoun United had had encouraging performances in their last two games but game away splitting the results in both, and came into Segra Field hosting a wounded but dangerous Phoenix Rising team. And after a shaky start, the Red-and-White righted the ship and two quick second-half goals helped the team to a raucous 4-3 win in front of 1,588.
With injuries, illness, and call-ups with U20 national teams, loan downs from D.C. United was at a minimum, with Gaoussou Samaké being the only loan down. For Academy players, Abdellatif Aboukoura started, with Jace Clark and Kristian Fletcher being on the bench, and Fairfax native Joe Rice started, with Luis Zamudio on the bench.
Phoenix was able to throw Loudoun into confusion with a 442 being a diversion from their usual 433, and Aodhan Quinn found the net early for the visitors:
Loudoun continued to scramble but found their footing, and Abdellatif Aboukoura leveled things for Loudoun from a nice pass by Michael Gamble. The goal was the third of the year for the 17-year-old Egyptian:
Moments into the second half, Aboukoura found his fourth of 2022 with help from Sami Guediri:
Guediri got in on the fun less than two minutes later:
Tyler Freeman got his third goal of 2022 off a deflection:
Houssou Landry cleared a Phoenix free kick the other way deep in the game that brought Phoenix back to a 4-2 deficit, and Quinn added another for tension, which was not enough to level things:
“We were disappointed with our turnovers, and bad positions, but their reactions were very good, their ability to rebound from it was great,” Martin said after the game. “The question I had was do they respond like we did in Detroit, or do they respond like winners, and today they responded like winners.”
On his first professional brace, Aboukoura said, “I had a play right before the first goal where I think I could have shot it. So the second I got the ball I knew I had to hit one, especially from that close, and on the second one, (it) was a great look from Sami and I was just able to put it away.”
“(Aboukoura) has found his form, he’s a fearless kid and kind of used the springboard from his Egyptian U-20 call-up to push himself in these opportunities, and he doesn’t back down from anybody,” Martin said about the youngster. “For a young kid with that type of composure and his ability to play with and for the team is a tremendous testament to him as a young man, so knock on wood, he keeps it going out West.”
“I think everyone would agree that we’ve had a lot of games where things just didn’t fall for us, and it feels nice to be on the other side of that and I think that’s what happened tonight,”Guediri said.
On his evening, Guediri continued, “I mean, (the) run dictates the pass on the first one, I’m just happy I was able to get it to him, great finish. And just a great ball from Nicky (Downs) and I’m happy I was able to put it to bed.”
“Man it feels great,” Rice said after his first win with Loudoun. “I had a bunch of family and friends up in the stands, and the guys had my back. I think a win is what this team really needs, and I think it just goes to show if we do all the things right in the game, that we can turn around the season, and that’s the goal. This game is just what has been coming for us, everything put together, it was one of our better performances. Obviously we could use some adjustments, but I think this was coming for us.”
On working with the backline, Rice said, “I think this is probably one of the most open-minded backlines that I’ve worked with. Everybody’s willing to listen to stuff that other people see that they may not, people are willing to put in the work for each other. After practice, we’ll talk about different scenarios. (They) are very open to in-game adjustments and I think our defensive line is our stronger line, our offense builds off that, and I’m really proud of them tonight.”
“It’s never a dull moment; I’m incredibly proud of the guys just to fight back from going a goal down and to stick four on a team like Phoenix is tremendous,” Martin continued. “I’ve been very proud of their effort and focus this week, it was one of those ones where we feel like we’ve been getting better.”
The next game for Loudoun (4-9-2, 14 pts) is next Saturday on the West Coast, as they play Orange County SC at 8:00 pm.
USL Championship Regular Season - Game 15
Loudoun United FC 4 (Aboukoura 32, 58, Guediri 59, Freeman 83)
Phoenix Rising FC 3 (Quinn 9, 90+3, Landry 90 (OG))
Loudoun (343): Joe Rice; Jalen Robinson, Carson Vom Steeg, Grant Lillard; Sami Guediri (Jace Clark 75), Michael Gamble (C), Nicky Downs, Abdoul Zanne (Tyler Freeman 56); Zoumana Diarra (Gaoussou Samaké 56), Abdellatif Aboukoura (Azaad Liadi 87), Skage Simonsen (Houssou Landry 75)
Phoenix (442): Ben Lundt; Darnell King (C) (Channing Chasten 83), Sivert Haugli, Joe Farrell, Ryan Flood; Santi Moar (Joey Calistri 63), Irakoze Donasiyano (Kevon Lambert 63), Aodhan Quinn, Baboucarr Njie; Claudio Repetto (Richmond Antwi 76), Greg Hurst (Marcus Epps 63)
Loudoun - Zanne 18
Phoenix - None