New Mexico United will once again make club history this weekend when they play host to Loudoun United FC. The match against the visitors from Leesburg, Virginia, marks the first time that United has ever played against a club from the Eastern Conference.
Although the opponent may be unfamiliar, they do share one thing in common with United; they both entered the USL Championship during the 2019 season. Beyond that, and both having signed Sammy Sergi, there isn’t much else in common.
The DC United affiliated Loudoun comes into the weekend having lost their first two matches of the season. Both losses were by a final score of 2-1, and in both, Loudoun fell behind early. Against any club in the USL, falling behind early is a dangerous proposition. But for Loudoun, they haven’t quite figured out how to respond.
While they haven’t been firing on all cylinders, Loudoun isn’t without talented players. Midfielders Darluis Paz and Kairou Amoustapha have shown moments of flair during the first few weeks. Amoustapha is a player similar to Hadji Barry, and he has pace to spare. Barry caused issues for United’s back three, and Amoustapha could do the same.
Player to Watch
Sammy Sergi – after notching his first goal for Loudoun in his last match, Sammy seems to be back at full strength after missing nearly all of the 2020 campaign. Sammy has good vision and a strong leg. Whether he plays in the midfield or higher up, he can cause issues for United.
United enters the weekend on a two-match win streak after beating Colorado Spring Switchbacks FC last weekend. Not only did the club have to come from behind, but they also picked up the win with only ten players on the pitch. After winning two matches on the bounce, United currently sits two points behind division leaders Rio Grande Valley FC.
While United’s attackers have started to find a groove, the true heroes of the season so far have been the back three. Austin Yearwood has been having himself a season and is imposing his will across the pitch. Strong performances from all of the defenders will limit the number of clean looks that Loudoun will get.
At the other end of the pitch, if United can be effective with their press, it stands to reason that the visitors will tire early on. Clubs that have little to no experience with the altitude change could find themselves struggling to keep up with the athleticism of United the later it gets.
Player to Watch
Austin Yearwood – It’s been a tremendous year for Austin so far. A back three system requires the players to play more narrow, but Austin has adapted well to the system and is flourishing.
Saturday night’s match is scheduled to kick off at 7:30 pm (MDT) from The Lab. The match can be seen domestically on ESPN+ and YouTube for international viewers. The match can also be heard locally on ESPN Radio 101.7 The TEAM.