Joe Corona and Ronaldo Damus score, Koke Vegas earns fifth clean sheet
SAN DIEGO (July 30, 2023) – San Diego Loyal SC returned to USL Championship action after a 16-day break with a 2-0 win against visiting Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC.
The return to league play came after SD Loyal closed out a four-match road stretch lasting more than a month with 7 points after going 2W-1L-1D. On Sunday afternoon it was Joe Corona and Ronaldo Damus that would find the net for SD Loyal at Torero Stadium on a warm afternoon. The Sweetwater High grad helped his team to three more points in the Western Conference standings as it began a five-match homestand against the team from the Rocky Mountain State.
SD Loyal (9W-5L-6D, 33 points) has now won three consecutive league matches for the first time this season. Its last two wins came at the hands of Colorado Springs, whom SD Loyal beat 5-0 on July 14. The home crowd got to see Corona and Damus score along with a handful of impressive saves by goalkeeper Koke Vegas. Head Coach Nate Miller’s team returned to league play after facing German powerhouse Borussia Dortmund in an International Friendly at Snapdragon Stadium on Thursday.
Corona opened the scoring Sunday with a right-footed blast from the right side of the penalty box for the 1-0 lead. It was Corona’s third goal of the season as he took a long cross from Blake Bodily, brought it down and sent in a rocket of a shot. The missile grazed Colorado Springs’ Joe Kuzminsky’s hand but the goalkeeper had no chance to stop it.
The goal came in the first half at a time when SD Loyal was controlling possession and pressuring the visitors on its side, forcing six corner kicks.
Colorado Springs (9W-11L-2D, 20 points) had one clear chance in the ninth minute when Maalique Foster sped up the right side into the penalty area but a sliding Collin Martin ended the threat near the six-yard box.
Corona nearly scored again early in the second half as he sent a shot that Kuzminsky had to block at the last moment.
Colorado Springs moved its lines forward and created a pair of chances but both shots were saved at point blank range by Vegas.
Vegas, who earned Palamor Heath Man of the Match honors and his fifth clean sheet of 2023, continued making saves, including one in the 72nd minute when he slid on a knee to block a shot by Romario Williams on a breakaway. SD Loyal went on to maintain an orderly defense before Damus closed out the scoring in stoppage time. The Haitian striker put back his own shot after it was initially blocked by Kuzminsky. The score was Damus’ sixth of the season.
SD Loyal has now outscored Colorado Springs 13-2 all-time and remains unbeaten against the club in its four meetings. SD Loyal will welcome Orange County SC next in its five-match homestand, taking on the Interstate 5 rivals on Saturday Aug. 5 at 7 p.m. Tickets to the match are available now at sdloyal.com/tickets.
GOAL SCORING RUNDOWN
SD – Joe Corona (Blake Bodily), 41st minute: Corona sent in a right-footed blast from the right side of the penalty box off a cross by Bodily. SD 1, COS 0
SD – Ronaldo Damus, 90+2: Damus put back his own shot off a pass by Mushagalusa to seal the scoring. SD 2, COS 0
- Joe Corona scored his third goal of the season.
- Ronaldo Damus scored his sixth goal of the season.
- Blake Bodily recorded his third assist of the season.
- Koke Vegas earned his fifth shutout of the season.
- Carlos Guzman, Michael Chilaka and Enoch Mushagalusa made their SD Loyal debuts in USL Championship play.
- SD Loyal remains unbeaten against Colorado Springs, outscoring the Western Conference rival 13-2 in four matches since 2022.
Palomar Health Man of the Match: Koke Vegas