In Front of Empty Stadium Seats, SD Loyals Fail To Score and Lose To LA Galaxy II
This was the first-ever meeting for LA Galaxy II and San Diego.
Riding high after a huge road win against the defending USL champion Real Monarchs last week, San Diego Loyal returned home to play their first home match since March 7th facing their nemesis from the north LA Galaxy II on Sunday night at Torero Stadium.
SD Loyal entered the match tied for first place in the group standings with perennial playoff contender Phoenix Rising, both with a total of seven points after three matches.
On their end, LA Galaxy II also known by their nickname “Los Dos” was coming off a humiliating 4-0 loss at the hands of the Rising and they were playing with a noticeable chip on their shoulder from the opening whistle of the match against SD Loyal.
The visitors wasted no time in testing the skills of goalkeeper Jon Kempin who had a very busy first half in order to keep the opponents off the score sheet.
Kempin first standout intervention came early on with a spectacular right-handed save in the 7th minute of play. Kempin would be called on again just six minutes later this time using both hands and every inch of his 6’1″ height to deflect the screamer aimed at the top of the right corner of the goal.
Kempin best save of the match came in the 36th minute when he deflected a header from point blank turning it to a corner kick for the visitors.
Kempin was constantly under fire and would be called again in the 43rd minute to make his last save of the first half keeping the scored tied 0-0 entering the break.
It wasn’t like San Diego Loyal team didn’t have chances in the opening 45 minutes. The usually sure-footed striker Francis Atuahene, who has already scored twice during the regular season and once in the preseason for Loyal, had two opportunities to give the squad the lead before halftime.
The first came in the 8th minute after a midfield turnover gave him a breakaway opportunity against goalkeeper Abraham Romero, but his shot from inside the box sailed just to the right. The second opportunity came in the 40th minute when Atuahene juked both defenders to create space for his left-footed shot that found the back post and bounced away.
Landon Donovan, San Diego Loytal’s head coach and part-owner made a few tactical adjustments that showed off quickly, including player substitutions that allowed his team to win the possession battle during the second half.
While Kempin needed to be called upon a couple more times during the match, the home team was unable to crack the scoresheet.
“Los Dos” took advantage in the 72nd minute off a corner kick which turned out to be an unexpected multiple pass set-piece which striker Augustine Williams flicked perfectly to the waiting head of teammate Jesus Vazquez within a few feet of the goal and that Kempin was unable to kept out this time.
Donovan responded with three more substitutions in the final 20 minutes of the game, but none were able to find the equalizer.
SD Loyal’s last quality chance to tie the match came off a 90th-minute free-kick just outside the box that midfielder Charlie Adams took, but it sailed up and over the goal.
“Tough to digest the game this morning. A disappointing result but we will grow from this,” said Kempin. The team now has to regroup and find a way to get back on the winning side as they prepare for a rematch with Las Vegas Lights FC, a team they tied with 1-1 to start the season. Vegas will no longer have the services of the former head coach and USMNT legend Eric Wynalda who was let go earlier this month.