Through the last several games I’ve been closely tracking Loudoun United’s stretch of games (in lieu of anything else productive), because I’ve been of the mind that this stretch can actually serve as an inflection or reinforcement point for Loudoun to if not turn the season around, can at least stop the bleeding. And over the last four games, a 2-1-1 record could very easily have been three wins in their last four games if a goalkeeper scoring deep in stoppage from a corner didn’t come into play. They have a couple more games, including tonight’s, where they can improve their fortunes, and are going to need to do it on the road, where they’ve been shut out in two of their last three. Which Loudoun team shows up tonight plays a big part in this.
player concept: Do what they did last week, this week.
When I wrote up Loudoun’s preview with Phoenix last week, I noted that Loudoun should not take their opposition lightly, even at home. Well...that goes double here! For as consistently good as Phoenix is, Orange County is only the defending USL champions, and currently on a six-game winless streak. However, four of those have been on the road, and Ryan Martin is going to be aware that a team that has won the big one in one year and on a poor stretch the next is going to be dangerous, particularly on their home field, and Loudoun’s effort is going to have to be sharp from the jump and stay there.
Location: Championship Soccer Stadium (Irvine, CA)
Kickoff time: 8:00 pm Eastern
Projected Loudoun starting 11/who D.C. United is loaning: Jacob Greene returns to Loudoun after missing out last week, and Gaoussou Samaké likely joins him, but past that, expect most of last week’s crew back in this one, the lingering question being who starts in net, Luis Zamudio or Joe Rice. Flip a coin there, but based on how Rice talked last week plus the team’s play, I’d presume Martin doesn’t upset the apple cart.
Starters: Rice; Jalen Robinson, Carson Vom Steeg, Grant Lillard (C); Greene, Nicky Downs, Houssou Landry, Sami Guediri; Abdellatif Aboukoura, Skage Simonsen, Zoumana Diarra
Bench: Zamudio, Rio Hope-Gund, Samaké, Azaad Liadi, Abdoul Zanne, Kristian Fletcher, Tyler Freeman
Key OCSC player/former D.C. players: Erick Torres
OCSC has seen a couple of players stick around for a second and then move to Europe; Kobi Henry being a recent example, and former D.C. Academy player Bryang Kayo being another. They also have a few familiar pro names in the squad, including United States national team alum Michael Orozco. “Cubo”, and to an equal degree Real Salt Lake alum Milan Iloski, comprise a large chunk of their attack (each has seven goals, the 14 comprise the team’s 21 goals, and their 58 combined shots comprise almost a third of the team’s 171), and are going to need to be contained.
Referee: Joseph Salinas
Available streaming: ESPN+ (click to subscribe to ESPN+, and your friends at B&RU get a little bit of cash!)
What are you drinking?: I grabbed a couple of Other Half crispy bois yesterday so if they’re not still here today that’ll be on tap today.
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