Year in Review: Loudoun United Kicked Off in 2019

County supervisors first announced they had been working on a secret deal to bring a professional soccer team to Loudoun in late 2017, but 2019 was the year that team took the field.

In January, Loudoun United made its first hiring announcement: head coach Richie Williams. He would last until April, when he stepped down to take a job as assistant to soccer hall of famer Bruce Arena, the coach of the New England Revolution. The team hired its former academy director Ryan Martin to take control.

In February, the team announced its first two players, including goalkeeper Calle Brown, a 2010 graduate of Loudoun County High School. Brown came back home to Loudoun after one season with the Seattle Sounders FC II. A Leesburg native, he played soccer for Loudoun County High School before playing for the Northern Virginia Royals in the United Soccer League—the same league in which Loudoun United plays. He has also played for the University of Virginia and several other professional teams.

The squad would continue to fill out its roster through March as the team approached its first scrimmage on Feb. 21, defeating Bethlehem Steel FC in an exhibition match, and then defeating the Richmond Kickers on Feb. 27.

Following the deal with the Board of Supervisors to provideland for the facilities and approximately $15 million in financing for construction for D.C. United to build a headquarters and training complex atPhilip A. Bolen Memorial Park just south of Leesburg,construction began on the 5,000-seatSegra Fieldstadium in March. The stadium hosted itsfirst game in front of a sold-out crowd only a few months later in August. By year’s end, the county board agreed to offer another $10 million in financing for the project, helping the team cover unexpected construction costs—including high water and sewer fees from the Town of Leesburg—that drove the cost up by $12 million to $15 million.

The young team struggled in its first season, as players got accustomed to playing with one another. The team recorded two losses and two draws until notching their first win in their fifth game, on the road in New Jersey. As the team fought through their first season together—with several players joining the team after the season had already begun—coaches and players emphasized the team’s steady, game-over-game improvement in post-match interviews.

The team recorded its first win at home in June. Forward Christian Sorto scored his first professional goals only two days after being signed to the team, scoring twice in the second half to lead the team to a 2-0 victory over Atlanta United 2. But that win was at Audi Field in DC—the team’s permanent home was still under construction.

The team played at their new home for the first time in August, playing to a draw against Charlottesville Independence in front of a sold-out crowd. Coach Martin credited “the twelfth man”—the hometown crowd—for helping the team score a tying goal late in the game to avoid a loss.

The team gave the hometown crowd their first win on Aug. 31, closing out a nearly month-long winless streak with an overpowering 4-0 performance against North Carolina FC.

And the team finished strong, recording four straight wins to close the season in October. The team ended its inaugural season with its most dominant performance of the year, defeating the New York Red Bull Reserves 7-2 and ending the season with a record of 11-17-6.

And Loudoun’s pro soccer scene only keeps growing.

In November, Washington Spirit, a National Women’s Soccer League team, announced they would also move its training to the facilities at Bolen Park, as well as playing four home games at Segra Field.

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