During the Washington Capitals run to the Stanley Cup last summer, Lovettsville officially (albeit temporarily) changed its name to Capitalsville. Cup fever swept through Loudoun County, and the rest of Northern Virginia, for a team that technically wasn’t from Virginia. So imagine how excited they could get for a team that they can call their very own. We’ll soon find out.
On March 9, the inaugural season of Loudoun United FC, part of the United Soccer League Championship, officially kicked off. Essentially a minor league team for D.C. United, which is the parent organization for the Loudoun club, the team will be made of players age 16 and older who D.C. United is developing with the goal of eventually making the major league soccer team. But before that, they’ll be stars of a new team, new stadium and a new featured attraction for Loudoun County.
The Loudoun area had flirted with D.C. United in recent years when the team was looking for a new stadium after deciding to leave RFK Stadium in DC. Ultimately, the club built Audi Field in the city, but Loudoun “continued to have conversations about what we could do together and we talked about having the training center out here,” says Buddy Rizer, Loudoun County Economic Development’s executive director. “And then eventually the discussions kind of evolved.”
In addition to the team and new stadium, which is being built on Loudoun County land, D.C. United will have a training facility and its team offices in Loudoun, as well as a youth development academy.
“We’ve realized that there is a ton of talent in the DMV area, and the youth soccer presence is so rich that we would be missing out on opportunities if we did not build a team that could bridge the gap between what we’re doing from a youth level to our academy of D.C. United and then up to the first team,” explains Adam Behnke, the chief operating officer for Loudoun United.
This inaugural season will start on the road against Nashville SC. In fact, the team’s first six games will be on the road. The 5,000-seat Loudoun United Stadium is currently slated to be completed in August, with the first home game scheduled for Aug. 9, against Charlotte Independence. Any home games before that will be played at an as-yet-unspecified local location.
The formation of a fan base can already be felt though. “It started with, ‘Who is Loudoun United?’, and now we’ve gotten to a point where they know who Loudoun United is and now they’re just asking, ‘When is the stadium going to be open?’, because they’re all salivating at the idea of this opportunity coming to Loudoun,” says Behnke.
“Having a professional sports team is a sense of pride,” says Rizer. It also adds another tourist destination to Loudoun, which already offers numerous wineries and breweries. When the stadium is up and running, there are plans to combine all of what makes Loudoun great in this single entertainment venue.
“Loudoun United, the name, is very intentional because we want to unite this community that already is very tight-knit.” Behnke says. “We want to be a part of it and help drive that motto forward so that we can really bring the entire community together with youth, with health, sport and fitness and entertainment at Loudoun United Stadium.”