Will the real 2020 Riverhounds please stand up? Just as I start to formulate a narrative that the high-octane Hounds have found their offensive mojo and shaken off the dull label of being a ‘classic Lilleyball’ defensively-minded team, they come up empty against 10-man Indy. Who are these guys, anyhow?
They score 10 goals in 2 matches against Philadelphia. But they also score 0 goals in two matches against Indianapolis. At times, the midfield of Kenardo Forbes, Robbie Mertz, and Danny Griffin look positively electric. At others, they look clueless and aimless.
Maybe I’m being too quick. Maybe the small sample size of this season has warped my sense of the team – a momentary hiccup becomes sudden cause for alarm. Or maybe the Riverhounds are only good against bad soccer teams. The Hounds have been good enough that, if current form holds, they seem likely to snag one of the 16 spots in the USL Playoffs.
But they also look shaky enough against quality opponents that another early-playoff exit might not be much of a surprise. Just like last year, and the year before.
Loudoun United – Personnel and Tactics
In their inaugural season, they were pretty meh, finishing with an 11-17-6 (WLT) record. That mediocrity continues into 2020, as the club are 1-3-1 to start the year – level with Philadelphia Union II on points at the bottom Group F, but having also played the fewest matches yet in the group.
Loudoun’s best players ought to be DC United’s young Homegrown signings – Griffin Yow, Donovan Pines, Moses Nyeman, and Kevin Paredes. But Pines and Yow have both been with the senior DC United team, where they’ve played a grand total of 8 minutes through five matches. Nyeman and Paredes played in only one match – Loudoun’s March 7 season opener in those halcyon pre-corona days when we could all, you know, do stuff and see people. Now that the MLS is Back tournament is over, perhaps they’ll be back tonight for the DC United reserves.
The rest of the team is filler, and it hasn’t been very inspiring or successful filler to date, as their record indicates. Grizzled veteran and team captain Peabo Doue plays leftback. The former West Virginia University star is 28 years old, and has played for 7 teams in his 8 years as a pro, including the now-defunct Wilmington Hammerheads and Jacksonville Armada. I probably just included that so I could write the word ‘defunct.’ Their other well-travelled journeyman is striker Elvis Amoh, who played in Ghana, Canada, and the Czech Republic before he ended up in the suburbs of our nation’s capitol.
Do they have a former Rochester Rhino? Who doesn’t? Midfield winger Michael Gamble played for Bob Lilley’s squad in 2016 on loan from the New England Revolution.
How about a Pittsburgh connection? Absolutely. Former Pitt Panthers Shane Wiedt and Robby Dambrot are back with Loundoun for a second year. Wiedt has started every match this year for Head Coach Ryan Martin’s squad at centerback. Dambrot is still on the team, but doesn’t have any minutes. A paucity of information leaves me to conclude that perhaps he is injured.
Perhaps the only up-and-comer to watch tonight on their squad is the newest academy product to matriculate, Ted Ku-DiPietro. The 18-year-old plays as a midfielder, and did not play in their last match on Saturday, a 2-0 loss to Louisville.
DC United probably want Loudoun youngsters to play a similar system to the senior squad, although this match is honestly my first look at them this year. They’ve set up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, ideal for DC United’s primary tactic known as ‘Benny Ball’. Ben Olsen’s team has a reputation over the past 8 years for being gritty and defensive – happy to cede possession, out-muscle you for second balls, and nip a goal on a set-piece. It could make for some ugly football if Bob Lilley decides to button things up.
Last Saturday’s Lineup for Loudoun United
GK Colin Miller; D Alexxon Saravia (Christian Sorto 65), D Shane Wiedt (Adam Lundegard 58), D Timmy Mehl, D Peabo Doue;
MF Jeremy Garay (Brandon Williamson 56), MF Elvis Amoh;
MF Michael Gamble (C), MF Tyler Gabarra (Jacob Greene 59), MF Massimo Ferrin (Kairou Amoustapha 25);
FWD Joshua Fawole
Date: Wednesday, Aug. 19
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Segra Field in Leesburg, Va.
Live Statistics: USL Championship Match Center
Live Updates: pittsburghsoccernow.com ; Twitter at @RiverhoundsSC and #LDNvPIT
Image of Allexon Saravia Zambrano from Loudoun United via twitter