Loudoun United enters a brief period of fixture compression and perhaps some player rotation which, combined with acclimation to their first team’s new formation, makes their chance to get away a potential welcome one. While five games in two and a half weeks is a change from previous post-Covid quicker more intense turnarounds, the team gets a moment to bond and get over some late-game tragedies that have bitten them away from Segra Field.
However, while teamwork may make the dream work, they’ll be facing a cagey USL independent side whom they battled once before and came up short against, so they’ll need to find a new gear somewhere tonight in Birmingham.
player concept: No really, see it out!
Despite the expected goals showing otherwise, Loudoun dealt with the pressure points of a midseason formation switch fairly well, and were going back and forth with Miami near the end of the game. But it was as close to the end of the game where the problem resurfaced. In two months, spanning eight games and back of notepad tallies, Loudoun has given up six goals, and an own goal, in second half stoppage, resulting in five dropped points. This sentence is the Bernie meme, but I am once again asking Loudoun to manage a game and see it out without getting in their heads over it.
Location: Protective Stadium (Birmingham, AL)
Kickoff time: 8:00 pm Eastern
Projected Loudoun starting 11/who D.C. United is loaning: I wouldn’t expect too much to change from a loan down perspective; Jeremy Garay, Jacob Greene and Hayden Sargis made the trip and will probably see time (particularly Sargis, as Carson Vom Steeg stayed home). Academy wise, Matai Akinmboni and Ignacio Alem get their first post MLS Next Cup trips, and recent contract signee Isaac Espinal joins them, with last week’s goalscorer Abdoul Zanne also home (he left at halftime after getting stepped on by a Miami defender).
Starters: Luis Zamudio; Greene, Jalen Robinson (C), Grant Lillard, Rio Hope-Gund; Nicky Downs, Garay; Zoumana Diarra, Skage Simonsen, Kristian Fletcher; Azaad Liadi
Bench: Joe Rice, Akinmboni, Sargis, Houssou Landry, Espinal, Alem, Tyler Freeman
Key Birmingham player/former D.C. players: Enzo Martinez
This is the second time this season Loudoun’s played Birmingham in the hopes of stopping their four-game winless streak, and this is the second time I’m listing Martinez because there’s no excuse to change things now. With six goals, four assists and 42 created chances, he’s a force for the Legion who have winnable games at Hartford this Saturday and hosting Atlanta United 2 the following weekend. He may get spelled tonight, but with a point and two games in hand over Loudoun’s last opponent Miami FC, former D.C. coach Tom Soehn may choose to give him a little run in order to get some breathing room in 6th place.
Referee: Sergii Demianchuk
Available streaming: ESPN+ (click to subscribe to ESPN+, and your friends at B&RU get a little bit of cash!)
What are you drinking?: Apparently, Trillium has found some Virginia distribution, and I will find some and bring it home.
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