SD Loyal Overcomes The Heat To Bring Down Defending USL Champs
It has been a long moratorium for soccer fans and an even longer one for players and coaches. Finally, USL Championship teams have Returned To Play amidst the pandemic with safety protocols in place for the Coronavirus COVID-19.
The goal for SD Loyal: Grant Stoneman (Jack Metcalf) in the 17th minute
It was well worth the wait for San Diego Loyal and its fans as the team overcame temperatures that reached triple digits on the field by coming out with a 1-0 win on the road on Saturday over the defending champion Real Monarchs.
The handful of fans that made the trip to Sandy, Utah to root on their team were surrounded by hundreds of Real Monarch fans at Rio Tinto Stadium, — but the Southern California fans sure got their money’s worth as they left happy, knowing that San Diego Loyal will continue to sit in the first place of the Group B standings and on top of the USL Championship points table after the huge victory.
This was the first match in four months for San Diego Loyal (2-0-1) since the 1-0 victory against Tacoma Defiance back on March 11.
Among the most notable players on Saturday was midfielder Jack Metcalf who showed off his technical skills on a perfect corner kick that found the head of a streaking Grant Stoneman in the 17 minute, who then flicked the ball by the outstretched hands of Monarchs goalkeeper Jimmy Slaton.
SD Loyal and Real Monarch had chances to open up the scoring before however. SD Loyal almost found the back of the net just eight minutes into the game. Unfortunately, SD Loayl’s forward, Tumi Moshobane, was unable to redirect the rebound which bounced off of Slaton’s hands into the back of the net.
The intense heat would be an omnipresent opponent for both teams throughout the match with both teams needing to take multiple hydration breaks — once in the middle of the first half and twice in the second half.
Despite the heat, SD Loyal’s head coach and manager Landon Donovan managed to keep his team organized and in form by spreading all his substitutions in a timely fashion thereby keeping the players as refreshed as possible.
It’s also worth noting that the Monarchs came ever so close to tying the match — thanks to two headers, one in the 35th and the second in the 86th minute, but did not get the referee to call a score on either.
There is also no VAR replay in the 2020 USL Championship that would have come to their rescue, particularly for the one in the 35th minute that clearly crossed the line.
“Big win on the road to get things going again and on to the next,” said Metcalf after the game.
Perhaps as noteworthy as the win was how well received the team’s united message in support of equality and social justice was.
SD Loyal’s players wore their new Black Lives Matter jerseys for the first time this season and the club’s commitment to social awareness and solidarity was impressive. Real Monarch’s players wore armbands with the initials BLM for Black Lives Matter.
The other factor that made this win memorable was just a few hours before the game it was announced that their assistant head coach Carrie Taylor had resigned her duties and would no longer be part of the team.
“We value Carrie’s dedication, drive and desire to win. We recognize and appreciate her work to help build Team One, as she was an integral piece to establishing this club,” said SD Loyal in a pre-game statement today.
“She’s choosing to refocus her energies on continuing to grow the women’s game for players and female coaches with an emphasis on helping underserved communities nationally and internationally gain greater access to sport. We wish her the very best.”
So, all in all, a very eventful weekend up in Utah with the team now getting ready to play LA Galaxy II at home next Sunday night — and, hoping to keep their early unbeaten streak going.
Real Monarchs vs. San Diego Loyal SC Lineups:
San Diego Loyal SC (4-5-1): Jon Kempin; Jack Metcalf (Emrah Klimenta, 90+2’), Joseph Greenspan, Sal Zizzo, Grant Stoneman; Eric Avila (Francis Atuahene, 72’), Charlie Adams, Collin Martin (Beverly Makangila, 89’), Carlos Alvarez, Robinson Moshobane (Ben Spencer, 90+2’); Irvin Parra (Elijah Martin, 72’)
Subs not used: Jake Fenlason, Morgan Hackworth
Real Monarchs (3-4-1-2): James Slayton; Taylor Peay, Zack Farnsworth, James Moberg; Andrew Brody, Sam Brown, Jack Blake, Dayonn Harris (Nicolás Giménez, 79’); Devin Vega (Ryan Sierakowski, 45’); Kyle Coffee (Christopher Bermudez, 79’), Bode Davis (Damian German, 62’)
Subs not used: Jeff Dewsnup, Steve Jasso, Jordan Pena