San Diego Loyal Has To Settle For A Draw In Vegas, Playoff Chances Narrow
San Diego Loyal came out swinging like a team knowing it needed a win on Thursday in order to have a realistic chance of making the playoffs, but instead had to settle for a 1-1 draw versus Las Vegas Lights FC at Cashman Field.
The team led by head coach Landon Donovan was coming off a very disappointing draw a few days earlier in Orange County where they were denied a penalty kick on the final play of the game from a handball that was not called in their favor.
This time around it was an offside that was not called on Las Vegas striker Blake Frischknecht in the 73rd minute that would cost the first-year team the much needed three points, thus dimming their chances at the postseason.
San Diego Loyal opened the scoring in the 57th minute thanks to a great hustle play from recently signed striker Miguel Berry who saved the ball from going out of bounds and sent a perfect pass to midfielder Collin Martin who was standing at the top of the box.
Martin then proceeded to send a right-footed rocket passed the outstretched arm of Las Vegas goalkeeper Thomas Olsen who was making his first start of the season.
The assist by Berry made up for the missed chance he had just a couple of minutes earlier from six feet away which he kicked over the crossbar.
This was the third meeting between the two rivals with Saturday’s match a rescheduled game from August 8th which was postponed after a player on the Lights’ squad tested positive for COVID-19 the day of the match. San Diego Loyal was informed of the forced delay just as they were getting ready to leave their hotel to play.
This was Loyal’s head to head match of the season with the Lights.
Unable to get a victory in any of their last three games and having to settle for two draws and a loss, this was an important match to Donovan and his players.
Las Vegas’ new head coach Frank Yallop, who took over for Eric Wynalda who was fired June 17, is the Lights’ fourth coach in less than three seasons. This was Yallop’s third match as head coach.
San Diego Loyal also showcased two of their three most recent signings during Thursday’s match with defender Tarek Morad getting a starting role and striker Alejandro Guido coming in as a sub to start the second half.
While the two teams remain mathematically alive for the playoffs, it’s just as clear that both head coaches will be focused on grading individual player performances and finding the right chemistry for the remainder of the season.
San Diego Loyal ends their three-game road trip against LA Galaxy II on Thursday night while Las Vegas Lights host group B leader Phoenix Rising on Saturday.