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Three things to know as North Carolina FC starts a two-game week against Loudoun United

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 05/13/24, 6:14PM EDT


Eastern Conference sides clash looking for boost in standings after recent winless runs

Loudoun United FC took a 3-1 victory on March 16 when it hosted North Carolina FC at Segra Field, the sides meet again on Tuesday night in North Carolina to open Week 11 of the regular season. | Photo courtesy Patrick Garber / Loudoun United FC

Week 11 in the USL Championship kicks off on Tuesday night as North Carolina FC plays host to Loudoun United FC at WakeMed Soccer Park at 7 p.m. ET. The contest brings together two teams struggling for league form of late with NCFC winless in its last five league outings and Loudoun coming off a 2-0 defeat on Friday night to El Paso Locomotive FC.

Despite that, either side would jump into the Eastern Conference playoff positions with a victory as Loudoun looks for a season-sweep after winning 3-1 when the sides met at Segra Field on March 15. Here are three things to know before tuning in on ESPN+.


There were numerous star turns for Loudoun when it took its first win of the campaign at home to North Carolina two months ago, but brightest of all was Kalil ElMedkhar as he notched a goal and assist in the contest. The 24-year-old has been one of United’s bright spots over the past season-plus, a season ago recording eight goals and five assists in 28 appearances to equal Zach Ryan for the most goal contributions for the side.

Since that display, unfortunately, ElMedkhar has spent time on the sideline, going almost a month without an appearance before his return as a substitute against Louisville City FC on April 20. After starting and going 45 minutes in United’s Open Cup victory against Orange County SC last Wednesday night, however, this would seem a prime spot for another breakout performance.


Overall, North Carolina FC has put together a strong return to the USL Championship that hasn’t yet been reflected in the Eastern Conference standings, where the side has only one win in its first nine outings. The biggest reason for that? The side simply hasn’t put enough shots on target in the attacking third.

NCFC’s 25 shots on target and 34.7 percent shooting accuracy rate are both the lowest in the Championship so far. It helps account for why North Carolina has only eight goals on 10.34 Expected Goals this campaign. There’s proven quality in the squad with the likes of Rodrigo Da Costa brought in this offseason, and Louis Perez is among those that have made a solid transition up from League One, but the side has to start being clinical in front of net. Tuesday’s a good a tim as any to start.


There are some notable veterans on either side in this contest – North Carolina’s Collin Martin could surpass 10,000 regular season minutes in the Championship for his career on Tuesday night, while Loudoun’s Florian Valot has arguably been the side’s best player this season. For both sides, though, there is also young talent that should be worth watching if given an opportunity.

For North Carolina there’s 18-year-old forward Julian Placias, who made the jump to the East coast this offseason after coming through the LA Galaxy’s Academy and LA Galaxy II. He’s recorded two goals in all competitions this season as he gets acclimated to the higher level of competition in the Championship. For Loudoun, keep an eye on 19-year-old Abdellatif Aboukoura, who’s notched a pair of goals this season while averaging 2.6 shots per game as an attacking midfielder. Both players will be aiming to be a difference-maker under the lights.

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