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Preview: Is the strong start for Loudoun for real?

Through three seasons of existence, Loudoun United have just been garbage. Garbage might be too kind a term for it – if you root through the garbage enough, you’re likely to find something good, or at least useful. You’d be hard pressed to find anything of valuable from Loudoun these past few years. Before this year, they had just 16 wins ever: 11 their first year, 1 in the truncated 2020 season, and 4 last year. That resulted in finishing very low overall in USL the past few years; 25th in 2019, dead last in 2020, and dead last again in 2021, with just 15 points total.

So far, though, in 2022, Loudoun are pretty solid, with wins over Indy Eleven and Red Bull II to start the year coupled with a draw against Miami FC.

 

It’s early to know whether it’s going to persist, but it’s clear that there’s been significant change at Loudoun. Former Loudoun speed merchant Kailou Amoustapha is gone. He plays for Cancún in Liga MX 2- which is a pretty damn nice place to move to if you ask me.Last year’s captain Timmy Mehl is also gone; he’s now with Tampa Bay. And fullback Robbie Dambrot is a Hound now.

Loudoun retain top MLS draft pick from Clemson Kimarni Smith, who is a wonderful player, and DC United Academy guy Ted Ku-DiPietroa talented two-way midfielder that could be an 8 (box-to-box midfielder), or a 10 (attacking midfielder), or a wing if you wanted him to be. He’s just 20 years old, but I feel like this year might be make or break for him to figure out if he’s going to be an MLS roster regular or just a very USL guy that never quite broke through.

Former Georgetown Hoya and Orlando City FC draftee Rio Hope-Gund now captains the squad and anchors the backline. It’s early to say he’s been the solution that eluded Loudoun in past years, but DC Suburb United have turned in three clean sheets this year, and Hope-Gund has played every minute of those games. He’s paired with big unit Grant Lillard, an MLS reserve team player the past five seasons with Columbus, Miami, and Chicago. None of those teams would give him minutes. Now that he’s a starter, he seems to be making the most of it.

The last notable player to mention is Sami Guediri, who appeared in 10 matches last season for Inter Miami in MLS at midfield before they cut him loose in a massive offseason roster rebuild. Again, he fits this overall trend – guys who were castoffs, and guys trying to prove something. That’s not a bad way to build a team identity – and it might suit historically anemic Loudoun to spark a long-awaited rebound.

image care of Loudoun United

Match Info

Riverhounds (2-0-1) vs. Loudoun United FC (2-0-1)
Date: Saturday, April 2
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Highmark Stadium
Odds: Hounds -370 / Draw +420 / Loudoun +800 (FanDuel)
Tickets: Ticketmaster
TV: 22 The Point
Streaming: ESPN+
Live statistics: USL Championship Match Center
Live updates: Here at pittsburghsoccernow.com and @RiverhoundsSC on Twitter
Match hashtag: #PITvLDN

Mark Asher Goodman is a writer for Pittsburgh Soccer Now, covering the Riverhounds, the Pitt Men's and Women's teams, and youth soccer. He also co-hosts a podcast on the Colorado Rapids called 'Holding the High Line with Rabbi and Red.' He has written in the past for the Washington Post, Denver Post, The Athletic, and American Soccer Analysis. When he's not reading, writing, watching, or coaching soccer, he is an actual rabbi. No, really. You can find him on twitter at @soccer_rabbi

Riverhounds MF Danny Griffin

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