San Diego, Calif. (March 7, 2020) – A new soccer era began at the University of San Diego Torero’s Stadium Saturday night when USL Championship’s newest club took to the pitch. San Diego Loyal Soccer Club (SD Loyal) made its debut playing to a 1-1 draw against visiting Las Vegas Lights FC (Lights FC) in the 2020 regular season opener for both teams.
A sold-out crowd witnessed the milestone for the San Diego soccer community when Team 1 Manager Landon Donovan led his team to its first point in his coaching debut. Donovan can in part thank Charlie Adams for the milestone as the British midfielder sent the ball to the back of the net for the first goal in franchise history to tie the match.
Lights FC had taken an early 1-0 lead when Junior Burgos sent in a blast from about 20-yards and the top of the arc, catching SD Loyal goalkeeper Jake Fenlason off his line in the fourth minute. It was a similar play to the initial Lights FC touch after kickoff as it tried a shot from midfield that had Fenlason scrambling but making the save.
The visitor’s lead didn’t last long. SD Loyal tied the match in the 15th minute when Adams sent a left-footed low shot just inside the right post of Lights FC goalkeeper Edward Delgado. Adams brought down with right foot a header by the defense, switched it to his other foot, as he cleared a defender for space before firing. The first goal in club history sent the more than 6,100 in attendance into cheers as the British midfielder celebrated with teammates as he jogged back to midfield.
Lights FC began to move its lines up after Adams’ tying goal. The visitors got two dangerous shots from beyond the 18-yard box but Fenlason was there to make a pair of saves at his line. Fenlason had to dive forward on a bouncing shot by Seku Conneh in the 27th minute.
Lights FC insisted early in the second half, making Fenlanson work for another key save when Bryan de la Fuente sent a low shot; Fenlason dove to his left to trap it.
SD Loyal’s defense held its lines and secured the tie while Donovan’s squad also tried to move the ball fluidly up field through the flanks but not being able to find clear shots on goal. Irvin Parra had a chance to break the tie in the 86th minute when he broke away from the defense but was caught from behind and had his shot blocked as he fired.
The tie gives both teams a point in the Western Conference standings after the season opener for both teams. SD Loyal will now head into its first road match, a midweek affair at Tacoma Defiance on Wednesday March 11 at Cheney Stadium. Kickoff is 7 p.m.
0-1 4th - Junior Burgos (LV)
1-1 15th -Charles Adams (SD)
SD Loyal: 24. Jake Fenlason, 5. Grant Stoneman, 20. Joe Greenspan (34th- Emrah Klimenta), 8. Sal Zizzo, 3. Elijah Martin, 4. Jack Metcalf, 6. Charles Adams, 7. Carlos Alvarez (Francis Atuahene), 40. Raul Mendiola, 9. Qudus Lawal ( Robinson Mashobane), 11. Irvin Parra. Coach: Landon Donovan.
Las Vegas Lights FC: 0. Edward Delgado, 2. Ramon Del Campo, 14. Bryan De la Fuente, 4. Gabe Robinson, 5. Javan Torre, 6. Mobi Fehr, 7. Junior Sandoval, 12. Jordan Murrell, 15. Grant Robinson, 10. Junior Burgos, 22. Seku Conneh. Coach: Eric Wynalda
For a selection of game photos, click here.
ABOUT SAN DIEGO LOYAL SOCCER CLUB
Launched on June 19, 2019, San Diego Loyal is the newest member of USL Championship, a USSF-sanctioned Division II league and one of the most competitive pro soccer leagues in the world. The Club will play at Torero Stadium at the University of San Diego. San Diego Loyal is built on four core pillars – independent, authentic, inclusive and optimistic. San Diego Loyal plays for America’s Finest City and is led by some of the best in sport. The Club is led by Chairman Andrew Vassiliadis, who is the youngest principal owner in USL Championship. It was founded and led on the business-side by experienced soccer executive Warren Smith, a co-founder and former president of Sacramento Republic FC. Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations Landon Donovan, one of the most decorated soccer players in the U.S., leads the technical side as both EVP and First Team Manager. To learn more, visit sdloyal.com
ABOUT THE USL CHAMPIONSHIP
The USL Championship is one of the most successful professional soccer leagues in the world, reaching a population of more than 84 million and fueling the growth of the game across North America. Sanctioned by the U.S. Soccer Federation as a Division II professional league, The Championship includes a membership of more than 30 clubs across the United States and Canada. Through the Championship’s headquarters in Tampa, Florida, the league’s clubs are provided with unparalleled support with a growing team of more than 50 professionals across 17 departments, ranging from operations to marketing, communications and sponsorship.
The Championship has a national media partnership with ESPN, wherein all league matches are broadcast on ESPN+, ESPN3 and across linear channels. The league also operates USL Productions, which includes a state-of-the-art facility that produced and distributed more than 500 league matches and more than 1,000 hours of original content to national partners, local affiliates and international markets throughout the 2018 season.