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Match Preview: SD Loyal back to action Saturday, resumes 2020 season on the road

By San Diego Loyal, 07/11/20, 12:00AM PDT

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Match vs. Real Monarch SLC is the first since March due to COVID-19

San Diego, Calif. (July 10, 2020) – USL Championship soccer is back. San Diego Loyal SC (SD Loyal) returns to action as the 2020 season resumes after four months of stoppage due to the COVID-19 outbreak. 

SD Loyal opens up the USL Championship return to play on the road against defending champion Real Monarchs SLC Saturday July 11 (1 p.m. Pacific) at Major League Soccer’s Rio Tinto Stadium. It is the first league match since the league shutdown play in mid-March due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. It slated to be the first sporting event in the United States with fans attendance. Approximately 5,300 fans will be allowed to attend in the stadium that holds more than 20,000. 

The game will be televised nationally in Spanish by ESPN Deportes and in English by The CW San Diego.

Coach Landon Donovan’s “Team 1” heads into the match with a 1-0-1 (W-L-T) record and four points in the league standings after playing two matches before stoppage of play. SD Loyal opened its inaugural season with a 1-1 tie against Las Vegas Lights FC March 7 at USD Torero Stadium in a historic night for soccer in San Diego. That match counts as one of the three scheduled against Las Vegas Lights FC in the restart schedule format.  SD Loyal then went on to beat Tacoma Defiance 2-0 March 11 on the road at an empty Cheney Stadium in Tacoma, Wash. as the COVID-19 pandemic began to spread in the United States. 

The “Return To Play” match pairs SD Loyal against team from Group C as the league reformatted the schedule that now has each team playing 16 games over 13 weeks. The post season begins the second week of October with 16 teams as each group winner and runner up clinch a spot. SD Loyal is paired with LA Galaxy II, Phoenix Rising FC, Las Vegas Lights FC and Orange County SC. It will play each of the group teams three times. It will play Las Vegas Lights FC twice as it already played in the inaugural match. Saturday’s restart match at Real Monarchs SLC is part of the out of group matches with Sacramento Republic and Reno 1868 FC the remaining two. The March 11 match against Tacoma Defiance counts as the fourth out of group opponent. 

During the stoppage, SD Loyal players and staff communicated via online and set up training protocols through video calls that included workouts from home. This continued until the league allowed small group training, then lifted restrictions to allow larger groups and eventually full squad training in late June. Players have since then been preparing for the restart under Donovan and his staff with training sessions at the Chula Vista Elite Training Center. 

Details for the match at Real Monarchs SLC are as follows:
Date: Saturday, July 11, 2020
Location: Rio Tinto Stadium 
Opponent: Real Monarchs SC
Kick Off Time:  1 p.m. (Pacific)
TV: ESPN Deportes/ The CW San Diego