Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC scored twice in the first 11 minutes of play to spoil Loudoun United FC's home opener Wednesday night at Segra Field in Leesburg.
Steevan Dos Santos and Lukas Fernandes scored goals four minutes apart to give Pittsburgh an early lead it would not relinquish in a 2-0 victory.
"In the first half, early goals are killing us. It’s tough to get momentum when we’re two goals down early," Loudoun United captain Peabo Doue said. "I thought we started off a little bit slow and in terms of physicality, we didn’t match up with them. Pittsburgh has always been a physical team and they give a max effort whenever they play, especially defensively."
Pittsburgh (5-3, 15 points) moved into a first-place tie with Hartford Athletic in Group F of the USL Championship. Loudoun (1-4-1, 4 points) is tied for fourth place in the five-team Group F standings.
"We had some good chances, we just didn’t take them ... we need to do a better job of that," Loudoun United head coach Ryan Martin said. "The guys fought until the end and pushed until the final whistle. From that side it's great, but the reality is you can't concede a goal early against a team like Pittsburgh, a veteran team, because you'll end up chasing them."
Down to 10 players after Nelson Martinez was whistled for his second yellow card in stoppage time of the first half, Doue thought the hosts performed better in the second half.
"When we were down a man in the second half, our energy came out and it was a completely different half," he said. "I thought we possessed the ball well and [Pittsburgh] didn’t have many chances. We were solid and organized defensively. I think if we start that way in the first half, then we’ll come out on top next time."
Following CDC and local health authority guidelines, Loudoun United made a limited number of tickets available for the home opener. Martin said it was "great" to play at home in front of an announced crowd of 452.
"Just to have people in the stands and whether it was just loved ones and family and friends, or locals who just wanted to get out of the house to the stampede, it’s just exciting," Martin said. "It’s a sign of hopefully getting back and making progress in the right direction. I wasn’t out in the concourse, but it seemed like everyone was wearing a mask and everything was pretty good, which is important."
Loudoun returns to action Sunday at Hartford Athletic before returning home to host New York Red Bulls II on Aug. 29.
P: Steevan Dos Santos (Daniel Rovira) 7'
P: Lukas Fernandes (Robbie Mertz) 11'
Shots: L 10, P 6
Shots on goal: L 3, P 3
Corners: L 6, P 2
Offside: P 2, L 1
Possession: P 53%, L 47%
Saves: P 3, L 1
Loudoun United FC lineup: Colin Miller, Allexon Saravia, Timmy Mehl (Jeremy Garay, 33’), Shane Wiedt, Jacob Greene, Theodore Ku-Dipietro (Michael Gamble 64’), Elvis Amoh (Brandon Williamson 64’), Peabo Doue (Josh Fawole HT), Kairou Amoustapha (Erumuse Momoh 64’), Nelson Martinez (Red Card 45’), Alioune Ndour. Unused Substitutes: Lorenzo Gordon, Adam Lundegard.
Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC lineup: Daniel Vitiello, Thomas Vancaeyezeele, Ryan James, Mark Da Silva Lindstrom (Skylar Thomas 66’), Dakota Barnathan (Daniel Griffin 65’), Daniel Rovira (Jordan Dover 44’), Anthony Velarde (Ropapa Mensah 86’), Robbie Mertz, Kenardo Forbes, Steevan Dos Santos, Lukas Fernandes (Mark Forrest 86’). Unused Substitutes: Hunter Ashworth, Tomás Gómez.