San Diego Loyal Bounces Back To Regain Top Spot In Group Standings
USL Championship Game Recap: Coming off their first loss of the season against LA Galaxy II in their previous match, San Diego Loyal needed to regroup quickly in order to remain contenders for the playoffs in Group B.
The team responded with a very dramatic 2-1 win victory against Las Vegas Lights on Saturday night at Torero Stadium — this was a squad they faced in the home opener, almost five months ago.
“That was a hard 48 hours after last weekend because we lost our first game ever as a club — including preseason. I’ve never felt that as a coach.”Landon Donovan, Head Coach San Diego Loyal on The Darren Smith Show
“The pain you felt when you lost a game as a player is multiplied now by 25 players and 10 staff members, so it’s not a fun feeling,” said Landon Donovan, Head Coach San Diego Loyal.
Whatever the first-year head coach and U.S. Soccer legend told his players before the match against Las Vegas worked as they came out strong, taking the lead in the 9th minute after defender Jack Metcalf sent one of his famous crosses into the box which found midfielder Tumi Moshobane who tried to head the ball into the back of the net.
While this initial header was saved by Vegas goalkeeper Edward Delgado, Moshobane followed up by tapping the ball in with his left foot and putting San Diego Loyal on the board with its first goal in the 9th minute. Moshobane’s goal was thanks to striker Ben Spencer‘s efforts to keep the ball alive.
The two teams then battled for possession and momentum throughout the remainder of the first half with most of the action coming in the midfield area.
Just when it appeared the home team would go into halftime with the lead, a penalty kick was awarded off a handball inside the box called on San Diego Loyal defender Grant Stoneman. Originally the action had been waived off by the referee — only for a penalty to be awarded just a few moments later.
Just as he did last week, Jon Kempin stepped up and was not only able to block the penalty kick, but also the rebound attempt from midfielder Jose Carrera. Unfortunately, Las Vegas’ striker Rashawn Dally was able to take advantage of a bit of sluggishness on the part of Loyal, and tie the game four minutes into stoppage time before halftime.
Donovan would make adjustments early in the second half including bringing in striker Raul Parra in the 61st minute.
Donovan’s decision play Parra, who previously played for Las Vegas Lights, paid off with the forward scoring just four minutes later in the 65th minute. Parra’s goal was earned with an incredible diving header off of a beautiful left-footed pass from the player of the match, Moshobane.
Parra’s goal would turn out to be the game-winner.
“It felt good you know, scoring against your former team,” said Parra. “I still have a lot of respect for that club and to the guys, but it feels good to get that game-winner, especially here at home.”
The victory was even more special not just because it allowed San Diego Loyal to regain the lead in their group with 10 points after five matches, but also because of the rich history between the two head coaches.
Las Vegas Lights head coach Frank Yallop coached Landon Donovan for three out of his four years during his tenure in charge of San Jose Earthquakes of the MLS in the early 2000s and during his brief one year stint as head coach of LA Galaxy in 2006.
“Yallop is a fantastic human being, first of all.”Landon Donovan, Head Coach San Diego Loyal
“He has been a mentor to me a little bit in the coaching sense but just mostly as a player and in life. I’m excited that he has this opportunity to get back on the sidelines,” said Donovan.
Yallop took over his duties last month after the club fired Eric Wynalda as their head coach.
The match on Saturday was the first one his team played since their opening season draw against San Diego Loyal back on March 7th.
“I think it was a good game. I think we deserved more than we got”, said Yallop. “A tie would have been a fair result, but I was proud of the guys … it just wasn’t our night tonight.”
For their part, San Diego Loyal has a few days to prepare before they go on the road for a rematch on Wednesday night against LA Galaxy II where they will look to avenge against their only loss of the season.