At long, long last, Loudoun United’s nearly year long wait for a win finally came to end Wednesday evening as they defeated a 10-man New York Red Bulls II by a score of 2-1. The match was marred by an early sending off for Red Bulls goalkeeper Wallis Lapsley, setting the tone for the rest of the night. But, Loudoun will have no complaints as they return home with a crucial victory under their belt.
After bright starts from both sides that saw in-form midfielder Elvis Amoh head just wide, Loudoun striker Alioune Ndour found himself through on goal minutes later after a defensive mishap. He attempted to slip the ball around the onrushing Lapsley but was stifled by the goalkeeper’s outstretched arm. Unfortunately for Lapsley, the referee noticed the infringement and duly gave him his marching orders.
From that point forward, the ascendance was on Loudoun to dictate the tempo of the game. After knocking on the door all half, 17 year-old Theodore Ku-Dipietro finally broke the deadlock on the stroke of halftime with his first professional goal.
The break gave Red Bulls head coach John Wolyniec and his team an opportunity to regroup. And regroup they did as the Red Bulls dominated the early stages of the second half. Loudoun head coach Ryan Martin responded and soon made changes of his own, bringing on three pairs of fresh legs to contain the Red Bull brigade.
The substitutions soon paid dividends with Loudoun growing back into the game. Soon after, they earned themselves a penalty when left back John Tolkin was deemed to have handled Kairou Amoustapha’s cross inside the area. Amoh converted from the spot for Loudoun.
NYRB II youngster Preston Kilwien then set up a nervy finale after he finished off a wonderful solo effort past a helpless Collin Miller. But, Loudoun managed to narrowly see the game out to claim all three points.
Man of the Match: Theodore Ku-Dipietro. A player that I think holds a soft spot in Ryan Martin’s heart from their days together in the DC United Academy, this felt like a coming of age outing for the midfielder. Tireless in his work ethic, “Ku” played like a classic box-to-box midfielder, constantly the point of reference of the attack. What was perhaps most impressive was his strength tonight, showing that despite his age and small stature, he could still go toe to toe with established professionals. His goal wasn’t too bad either.
Miles’ “What to be Loud About”
I was in the dressing room a lot last season and Coach Martin relentlessly drove home his goal to make the playoffs. This is what this club has set out to do since its inception. For the first time since the restart, Loudoun United finally looked like a team that could do just that- a team set up as a cohesive unit while able to both defend compactly and create clear opportunities. Martin spoke last match about the positive signs he was seeing from the first few games. The extended break must have given him time to hammer home those positive takeaways because this Loudoun felt like the Loudoun at the end of last season. I think there’s plenty to be Loud about from last night and with still more than 3/4th of the season to go, there’s every reason in the world to believe in a playoff push in 2020.
Loudoun now sit on four points in 4th place, eight points behind 2nd placed Hartford but with one fewer game played. Next up for Loudoun is a trip Kentucky to face Louisville City FC, who sit bottom of Group E. Their table position might be a bit harsh, however, as their record is by no means terrible at 2-3-1. Either way, Loudoun will relish the opportunity to play at home and should feel a sense of momentum after tonight.