Roots Family! If you’re tired of moral victories, the match this Saturday is as good a chance as any for the Roots to get the three-point kind of victory. Roots host Loudoun United at 7:00 p.m. at Laney College on Saturday, April 16. The match will be broadcast on ESPN+.
Loudoun United was founded in 2018 as D.C. United’s reserve team. Consistent with what you expect from MLS b-teams, Loudoun has 18 total wins in four seasons. The Roots have 11 wins in the USL, for context.
The crest is all down hill from the “pinwheel and jagged elements.” As a preliminary matter, “Loudoun’s” profligacy with vowels is not to be celebrated. The sentence “the club unites professional soccer and Loudoun County together via the game,” loses its way halfway through and winds up back where it started. They did not expect anyone to read this page. The “billion dollar equine industry” is not a point of pride for anyone who supports this team. I guarantee it. It’s honestly hard for me to imagine two such disproportionately white groups with less crossover than second tier soccer fans and dressage competitors. Finally, does slapping wings on a horse actually marry DC United’s eagle and Mitt Romney’s hobby? A/the pegasus is already its own thing with its own meaning. If the team really wants to stand on its own two hooves, it should have combined the parts differently:
This horse is just as likely to be “elevated” by the wing as the one on the badge.
Loudoun United play in Leesburg, Virginia. Virginia, like Andrew Carleton, is famous for losing a civil war. To its credit, Leesburg is not named for Robert E. Lee, like a number of other things in Virginia that should be torn down. Unfortunately, that’s because its named for Lee’s ancestors who were also slave owners. “Bydeing” their time indeed. Among US counties with more than 65,000 residents, Loudoun has the highest median income, so maybe the equestrian thing really is a point of pride. To be clear, that is worse than if they were just wrong about it. Anyway, here is the dumbest thing you’ll see today:
Two observations about this picture. The first is that Akeem Ward played for Loudoun in 2019. The second is that Loudoun were apparently sponsored by The National, everyone’s favorite post-punk revival/art rock band with a horn section.
If you’d asked two weeks into the season, I’d have said “jaw dropping.” Loudoun had the fewest points in the USL last season. They started the season with a 1-0 over Indy 11 and followed that with a 3-0 rout of NY Red Bulls II. Then a 0-0 draw away to Miami suggested that Loudoun’s form might have more to do with their opponents than with them.
First of all, all the highlights are of the same end of the pitch, and there is an orange advertising board for “K&L Gates,” a prominent Pittsburgh law firm. All firms that big have clients they wish you’d forget, but you might enjoy knowing that K&L Gates represented WWF in lobbying to exempt wrestling from anabolic steroid regulation because it’s entertainment and not sport. The K&L Gates lawyer who led that lobbying effort was Rick Santorum. Anyway, Pittsburgh took the lead on a goal that had three different instances where the Roots would have been called offside. Pittsburgh’s second is a thundering header from a corner kick.
Loudoun then returned home to the DC exurbs to host Louisville, who also beat them 2-0. The commentator makes it 0 seconds into the highlight reel before making his first mistake. Louisville carved Loudoun apart in the 4th minute for the first goal. Louisville’s second was a magnificent chip from Brian Ownby, who famously sports what all agree is the finest look a man can sport (bald, haggard beard).
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the Roots’ season got off to a crappy start. RGV Toros and Memphis 901 are not bad opponents, and they were long road trips while the Roots were trying to integrate a bunch of new players (is it “integrating” when it’s 9 new starters?). Roots then dropped the home opener against Monterey Bay F.C.–a team they really should be beating. Since then, if you ignore the USOC fiasco, the Roots are playing pretty well. Sure, saying “pretty well” about three straight draws is the kind of American soccer-guy take that makes American non-soccer-guys think that American soccer-guys are boring and/or fundamentally broken. But if you’re reading this, you’re an American soccer-person or have too much time, or both.
The Roots drew New Mexico 2-2 in Albuquerque, dominating a lengthy opening to the game, but falling behind, and then struggling in the second half with the wind in their faces. The Roots conceded again, and things were looking really dark, but Chuy found Tarek Morad with a brilliant arcing cross to the back post to equalize.
New Mexico somehow has not played in the league since the Roots’ game, but they are 2-2-0 with their only dropped points to the Roots and to defending league-champion Orange County.
Roots then hosted Tampa Bay Rowdies in a game we were doing our best to manage expectations for. Admittedly, Tampa had to fly cross-country for this match, but Oakland completely dominated them.
Unfortunately, the Roots did not find the back of the net.
(then the open cup happened)
Then on a cold-ish Wednesday night at Laney, the Roots hosted San Diego Loyal, a team that was 5-0-1 with two quality wins and its only loss on an away fixture two time-zones away. San Diego’s offense has been prolific this season, and sure enough, they found a way to lead twice. But twice the Roots came back.
There was an old guy sitting in front of the Blog at this game who asked us why everyone was booing the fascist, and so we explained, and he said it was good to boo him, but that he kinda feels that way about all men with manbuns. Dr. RootsBlog made a face. Anyway, this old guy said that this was another game the Roots were going to fritter away where they dominated. I didn’t really think that Roots dominated, but they at least looked a match for San Diego until Morad got sent off. That said, this match did follow a pattern where the Roots struggle to put away their chances.
The opener in the 52nd was a bad mistake from Fissore. Martin jostled him a little bit to force the error, but he cannot count on getting that call; he’s got to just hoof that ball out of the stadium when he feels that pressure. The fascist man bun collected the spilled ball, passed calmly back to Martin who was admirably calm. This was a bad mistake, but it’s the kind of thing that just happens sometimes, and seems to compound when you’re struggling. Fuenmayor, for some reason well into San Diego’s half, got the ball on a turnover and damn near took the goal off its moorings in the 59th, but again this season is not going in a way where that finds the back of the net. Morad got his second yellow in the 64th on a pretty soft foul, but one he should not have risked when he was already in the book. We really thought the game was over at this point. The Roots hadn’t given up, but they were struggling to get the ball at all, and it felt like the Roots might be done scoring for the season after New Mexico.
Then, in the 86th, the Roots had some possession around the San Diego box, and a Jose Hernandez volley-attempt ricocheted wildly off a Loyal player and out to the Roots’ attacking right side, where Mfeka forced the Loyal player to attempt to control the ball back towards his own goal. Rito jumped at the loose ball and made a beautiful one-time cross clear to the far side of the box where Azocar placed a one-time shot inside the back post. The keeper can’t have gotten a hand within four feet of the ball. Ricky Lopez-Espin described this tying goal as “a character building win.”
Because it’s never easy, the Roots gave up the slowest of slow-motion goals in the 90th minute.
But then! In the fourth of four minutes of stoppage time, Rito played the ball back to Emrah Klimenta at about ten yards into Loyal’s half. Klimenta took a touch that flummoxed the one Loyal marker and fully stroked this pass straight onto Karlsson’s head for the equalizer.
My throat still hurts from the noise I made when the net shook on this one. Art:
It sucks that the Roots don’t have a win yet, but the three draws are all quality against quality opponents.
Players to Watch
Jacob Greene #3 – Utility midfielder Jacob Greene hails from the Maryland suburbs of DC, is a product of the DC United youth academy, and turned 19 earlier this season. Greene has played just shy of every minute for Loudoun so far this season, and at this point if we don’t see him it seems likely it will be injury or because DC United wants to call him up. Greene scored in Loudoun’s 3-0 win over Red Bulls II and earned a USL Team of the Week berth for the performance. Greene’s goal was in functionally garbage time, but he broke down the right flank and scored on a hard low shot from a tight angle.
Sami Guediri #21 – Left winger/fullback Guediri is integral to Loudoun’s press and is Loudoun’s highest rated player on Fotmob over the season. Sure enough, Guediri also has both a bench and full team appearance on the USL Team of the Week.
Tyler Freeman #11 – Freeman is another player who, like Danny Barbir, a rival plucked from the ashes of the Swope Park Rangers. Freeman leads Loudoun with two goals, 50% of their total, both of which he scored 30 minutes after RBII went down to 10 men.
Rio Hope-Gund #2 – just wanted y’all to see this name.
Lineup and Score Predictions
I’m on a one game unbeaten streak for predictions, and the Roots are on a three game unbeaten streak in the league, all against quality opponents. Loudoun haven’t scored a goal since game week 2, and they have to make the same flight here that the Roots had to make to Greenville. It’s early enough in the season, and the Roots didn’t have to travel, so I think the midweek game means the Roots will be ready rather than tired. Same formation but some different personnel, some required and some to change things up. Roots take it 2-1.
My lineup has minimal changes, Joseph Nane in for Matias Fissore, who appeared to suffer an injury severe enough to force him out of the last match. Emrah Klimenta in for Tarek Morad after receiving a red card on Wednesday, which should force a one game suspension—I believe. Fuenmayor pushes inside, while Klimenta takes a similar position to where his assist came on Wednesday. My score prediction: 2-nil Roots.
We have basic unanimity with the lineup prediction: Klimenta in for the suspended Morad, Nane in for Fissore. I could see one of Chuy (in place of Carol from HR) or Lindo (in place of Formella) starting, but I think those are likely to be the first subs off the bench. Once the dam breaks here, I think we’re going to see a flood of goals. 3-0 Roots.