Vassell brace leads dominant win to remain undefeated at home
SAN DIEGO (April 9, 2022) – San Diego Loyal SC knew April would be a busy month. It would have to play five league matches, four of them in a span of two weeks. The team has answered the first half of that challenge by extending its best start in team history.
SD Loyal continued its fast start to the season with a 4-1 win against visiting Charleston Battery Saturday at Torero Stadium. Kyle Vassell and Tumi Moshobane played key roles in helping their team to three more points in the Western Conference standings. Add an own goal by Charleston Battery goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky and the rout was on for Landon Donovan’s team that is now 4-0 at home this season in USL Championship play.
SD Loyal (5-1-0, 15 points) went unbeaten this past week after playing three matches in seven days. It beat El Paso Locomotive FC last week in league play on Sunday then quickly turned around and beat Albion San Diego in its first ever Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup appearance on Wednesday.
“Having three games in a week is challenging,” Donovan said. “I am just proud that we got up emotionally throughout the game and won all three. That is a sign of a good team. We’re not perfect yet. We are striving to get better and better, but I think, overall, we have taken what teams have given us and (we are) punishing them.”
SD Loyal’s attack punished Charleston Battery (1-4-0, 3 points) Saturday night in the first meeting between the clubs. The SD Loyal offense included Vassell scoring twice (45+1 and 75th minute) after Moshobane opened the scoring when he tapped in a pass from Thomas Amang in the 11th minute. Moshobane moved into the penalty box from the right. Amang fought off a defender and was able to poke it to Moshobane to set up the score.
The Moshobane score came after Charleston Battery spent the first 10 minutes pressuring with its attack. It wasn’t until SD Loyal sent a long ball upfield that Vassell was able to bring it down and feed Amang before the striker from Cameroon used his speed to beat his defender and get the ball to Moshobane.
A little later, Amang was involved in a play that resulted in a Charleston Battery own goal in the 23rd minute. SD Loyal took a 2-0 lead when Collin Martin sent in a ball into the penalty area and off the left post. The ball then ricocheted off Charleston goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky and into his own net.
Charleston did find the SD Loyal net in the 28th minute to cut the lead down to 2-1. Mauro Cichero got a head on a cross from Geobel Perez. Cichero sent it in from near the penalty spot just past SD Loyal goalkeeper Koke Vegas.
Vassell extended the SD Loyal lead to 3-1 when he blasted a left-footed shot near the left post and close to the end line. The physical striker fought off a defender, turned around and fired the low shot after Alejandro Guido sent in a free kick into the area. He went on to add his second of the night late in the match when he blasted a left-footed shot from about 20 yards out past Kuzminsky. The Charleston Battery goalkeeper had no chance. The English striker’s shot from outside the penalty box zoomed into the net after he made a couple of moves and shook off his mark. The score sent the stadium crowd into a frenzy.
“This place is awesome,” Donovan said of the home atmosphere at Torero Stadium. “It’s just so much fun to be part of the energy every time we are here, and our players feed off of it. There’s no question. A lot of them have never played in an environment like this consistently. Supporters being loud again, bringing the energy and after a long emotional week, sometimes you don’t have all the energy. The crowd can help you. They brought the energy again.”
SD Loyal will continue with its busy schedule with another two-match week. It will first travel to the Bay Area to face Oakland Roots Wednesday, April 13 and then return to Torero Stadium Saturday, April 16 to take on two-time USL Championship Final winners Louisville City FC. On Tuesday, April 19, SD Loyal will head up Interstate 5 and look to upset Major League Soccer’s LA Galaxy in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup at Dignity Health Sports Park.