Milestone match ends with 1-0 loss at MLS side LA Galaxy
CARSON, Calif. (April 19, 2022) – San Diego Loyal SC players walked off the field saluting hundreds of fans that made the trip north Tuesday night.
Players saluted the SD Loyal faithful after playing in the club’s most important match to date as it left with a 1-0 loss against LA Galaxy of Major League Soccer in a third round match of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
Decked out in Torrey Green, the well-traveled supporters got to see their club play a hard-fought match against one of the powerhouse franchises of MLS at Dignity Health Sports Park. But it was a goal by Kevin Cabral in the 28th minute that was the difference on the scoreboard, eliminating coach Landon Donovan’s team from its first-ever participation in the historic U.S. Soccer competition.
It was a memorable night for SD Loyal despite the result as it caught regional and national attention as one of the top USL Championship teams participating in the tournament. Donovan took his team into where he left a legacy as a player where he won several MLS Cups. He prepared his team to play its style of game from the start. SD Loyal moved the ball fluidly at times, creating some scoring chances against a team with notable international stars.
“I thought it was a really good game all around. I think the Galaxy probably have the best second team in Major League Soccer,” Donovan said. “(They have) quality players all over the field. It was a really good challenge for our team. I’m a little disappointed we didn’t score a goal. Overall, I am really proud of our team. We played the way we always play against a very good opponent and we had a chance to get something from the game. I am proud of our guys. I thought it was a great game and it was enjoyable to be a part of.”
Part of SD Loyal’s attack was an early chance that came in the seventh minute when Nick Moon moved into the penalty box on the left side, dribbled a few times and sent a shot wide of the right post. Then there was Alejandro Guido with a right-footed shot that bounced in front of Galaxy goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann, who dove to punch it away with both hands in the 10th minute.
But it was Cabral who eventually helped the Galaxy break through when SD Loyal had created some momentum. Cabral’s scoring play came off a defensive miscue. The Galaxy striker was quick to retrieve a ball that SD Loyal defender Grant Stoneman couldn’t clear. Cabral took the ball and fired a right-footed shot that ricocheted off the left post, then took his rebound and sent it in past SD Loyal goalkeeper Koke Vegas with his left-foot. Vegas finished the night with a handful of standout saves late in the match.
It was the Galaxy’s most dangerous play despite nearly scoring again in a busy second half that had both teams moving the ball up and down the field. Efrain Alvarez almost found the net with a shot that sailed just off the mark in the 70th minute.
SD Loyal, who played with 10 starters until the final whistle, had a couple opportunities to equalize the match. Both involved Moon. He got a header on a long cross by Jack Metcalf and sent in a shot. The SD Loyal midfielder didn’t get enough of it. Klinsmann caught it with one hand on his line moments before halftime. Moon had a similar chance late in the match but from near the six-yard box. His header again didn’t have enough force and it landed in Klinsmann’s hands.
Donovan’s team kept pushing late, looking for the equalizer but the home side held up on its side of the pitch to secure the win and move on to the next round of the competition.
SD Loyal will now shift its focus back to USL Championship play having learned some valuable lessons from its first appearance in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. It will take a short break this week before returning to league play on the road against the reigning Eastern Conference Champion Tampa Bay Rowdies on Saturday, April 30.
“It’s good for our guys to see what it’s like at the next level,” Donovan said. “The emphasis on the day we had to prepare was if you don’t have the ball and keep possession in tough moments, you won’t see it again for two or three minutes at a time. That’s how the match played out. It forced us to defend in a way we normally don’t. That’s good for us. It will help us grow. Overall, I think the performance was really good especially all things considered over the last few weeks that these guys have been through. I thought they did a really good job.”