Any discussion about what Loudoun United’s success should or shouldn’t be should be placed within the context of what independent USL sides have to accomplish on their year to year goals. They have to retain the core of their roster, bring in new players from other clubs or from abroad a la what MLS does, and have started to realize the potential of their youth development in recent years. When put against sides like Pittsburgh (coached by decades-long pro Bob Lilley), Sacramento (the first side since I think the Charleston Battery to reach the Open Cup Final as a second division side, things are tougher.
They don’t get easier tonight for Loudoun as they head to Louisville which saw the Washington Spirit hoist the NWSL title last season. Louisville’s USL side has finished lower than second once in its seven-year history, transferred a young player (Jonathan Gomez) to Spain and Real Sociedad and has another in the pipeline. They’re as good as they come, and head into the home stretch looking to cinch the Eastern Conference.
player concept: Crack the net, mess things up.
Loudoun didn’t play bad against Sacramento on the road last week, but there were enough guns on the bench for the hosts to make the 3-0 result feel warranted. But Loudoun’s 30 goals are second worst (to the New York Red Bulls II) in the League, and they’re playing a Louisville side fresh off a shutout draw on the road last week, and have put up three clean sheets in their last five games at home, and are tied for the league lead in fewest goals conceded (22) and clean sheets (14) with San Antonio. If there’s a possibility here, it’s that Loudoun’s scored against San Antonio in a tight road loss recently, but Louisville is such a tactically versatile bunch they’re going to be formidable no matter what.
Location: Lynn Family Stadium (Louisville, KY)
Kickoff time: 7:30 pm Eastern
Projected Loudoun starting 11/who D.C. United is loaning: As usual, Jeremy Garay, Jacob Greene, with Gaoussou Samaké being held back and Ted Ku-DiPietro coming along. There’s a midweek game next week so there may be one more chance for Garay to get some time before his El Salvador call-up against former DC DP Edison Flores and Peru on the 27th, but we’ll see how things shake out. Kristian Fletcher and Gavin Turner tag along, with Azaad Liadi and Rio Hope-Gund, expected to be ready after being out due to injury, though I’d doubt they start.
Starters: Luis Zamudio; Greene, Jalen Robinson (C), Carson Vom Steeg, Nicky Downs; Garay, Houssou Landry; Abdoul Zanne, Ku-DiPietro, Fletcher; Tyler Freeman
Bench: Dane Jacomen, Hope-Gund, Skage Simonsen, Zoumana Diarra, Turner, Jonathan Benteke, Liadi
Key Louisville player/former D.C. players: Wilson Harris
Former D.C. player Danny Cruz is the team’s coach and Executive Director, and U-19 player Josh Wynder may get some run today. With Niall McCabe and Cameron Lancaster out, the former Sporting Kansas City II player (and teammate of Tyler Freeman) has 11 goals, while Richmond Kickers alum Brian Ownby has created 43 chances. Want to see where the goals can come from by the hosts? These two are a good place to start.
Referee: Nabil Bensalah
Available streaming: ESPN+ (click to subscribe to ESPN+, and your friends at B&RU get a little bit of cash!)
What are you drinking?: Grabbed a Sierra Nevada party pack and am digging through that, maybe some bourbon in lieu of where the game is, I dunno.
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