Usually the news surrounding Loudoun United coming into the season is what players will complement the inevitable flood of D.C. United players, but the biggest headline in the offseason was the decision of D.C. United to sell a controlling share of Loudoun to Attain Sports and Entertainment, chaired by Greg Baroni. The decision was months in the making, and Loudoun coach Ryan Martin prepared roster construction accordingly, signing a group of younger professionals to the team and having the bulk of players in for a complete preseason, rather than waiting on a half dozen or so to join them from D.C. as loanees. Ahead of their first game this weekend, let’s try to tackle some of the questions that may be out there for the team to deal with?
Is D.C. going to loan any guys down like they did before?
You’ll see a couple of guys loaned for the season, starting with Gaoussou Samake and Jeremy Garay. There is still an affiliation with D.C. so there may be guys coming down for conditioning time and such, but it sounds like it’s not as liberal as it was before.
What does the Academy/Pathway look like?
Academy players like Ignacio Alem, Brian Chavez, Gavin Turner and a few others may see some time here and there (with Turner being on a longer scale as he’s recovering from ankle surgery in January). Players like Garry Zhang, Ethan Pendleton and Graham Jones have trained with the team and one point or another this preseason so they may also be in consideration.
Who are the pro guys worth watching?
Tommy Williamson and Zach Ryan come from other MLS organizations either via the draft (Williamson) or homegrown signing (Ryan), and are going to be leaned on for a Loudoun attack that’s been bereft in years past. It would have been nice to have leading goalscorer Tyler Freeman, assist maker Skage Simonsen and former D.C. homegrown Jalen Robinson return, but they moved on to greener pastures with Nashville (Freeman) and Detroit City (Simonsen and Robinson). Yanis Leerman and Cole Turner appear to be the starting center back pairing Garay and Houssou Landry return to comprise the spine, so to speak.
It should be noted that most, if not all, of the guys signed this offseason have multiyear deals, even deals with an option past 2024, so not as much turnover going forward in theory.
What’s the lineup going to look like?
Taking a guess a little bit (also because I couldn’t fit Abdoul Koanda in his central midfield spot), but:
What’s the expectation for these guys?
I’m not sure! The team’s average age without loandowns is probably in the neighborhood of being two or three years older than last year’s, which is still young but one has to start somewhere. In past years, most of the team were on year to year deals, they are now on two-year deals, some with a club-held third season. The team plays four of their first six at home (starting with hosting the defending league champions San Antonio FC on March 19), and six of their first ten games are with the Western Conference, so they’ll get to know each other in quick succession.
By all means, fire away with any questions that come to mind.