Loudoun United scarves

It may be Super Bowl week, but our minds are on football of another sort.

Loudoun County now being home to a professional sports franchise started feeling refreshingly real this week.

(OK, Ashburn-based Redskins, we'll clarify; we're talking about a professional sports team that will actually play their games in our county.)

Loudoun United FC, DC United's minor-league affiliate, named its inaugural head coach and another key executive this week, introducing the two with a press conference in Leesburg on Tuesday.

Officials with the United Soccer League squad went on to tell us they'll be holding tryouts in Leesburg next weekend, something that established a connection between the franchise and community in a fun, Vince Papale type of way.

For the purposes of our writing here, we're not going to call the question of whether county residents' tax dollars should help construct a stadium for a professional sports team. Perhaps we'll opine on that at a later date, or maybe we'll simply let you decide for yourselves with facts in hand: The county is providing the land and fronting the $15 million to construct the facility and expects to be reimbursed over the next 30 years, according to the agreement. Local residents will also have the opportunity to use some of the fields for both sports and events like graduations.

“We are going to do something very special with this market, and [Head Coach] Richie [Williams] is going to be the face of what we are trying to do – and that’s developing talent to compete at the highest level in the USL and really build something that is special unique to this county,” D.C. United Co-Chairman and CEO Jason Levien said. “The opportunity to have a professional sports club – a professional soccer team – right here in Loudoun and Leesburg is very unique.”

That's a refreshing quote, and we hope it foretells a budding community bond that will grow, evolve and strengthen – and be mutually beneficial, of course. From the franchise's landing announcement last summer at Vanish Brewery in Lucketts, one of the county's most successful and impressive rural businesses, to this week's press conference at The National Conference Center, one of Loudoun's strongest corporate citizens, something just feels right about Loudoun United.

We find United to be an apt name; for when it's at its best, sports unites friends and strangers alike.

Compartmentalizing the public investment question – taking it out the equation here – we've caught Loudoun United fever. Recalling the Loudoun Hounds boondoggle of yesteryear, we feel like we earned it.

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