Sandy, Utah (July 11, 2020) –It was a moment USL Championship players, coaches and fans were waiting for: Kickoff. And San Diego Loyal SC (SD Loyal) kicked off the restart of the 2020 season with a 1-0 win against host Real Monarchs SLC at Major League Soccer’s Rio Tinto Stadium.
The soccer ball rolled on the pitch under 96-degree weather after four months of stoppage due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Play resumed for SD Loyal much to a similar beat to before the pause. Coach Landon Donovan’s team earned another road win to help the squad remain unbeaten in its inaugural season with a first half goal by Grant Stoneman. SD Loyal (2W-0L-1T) earned three more points in the realigned and regionalized standings and leads Group B with seven points at the restart of the season, thanks in part, to Stoneman.
Stoneman scored when he got a piece of a Jack Metcalf corner kick and sent it into the right wall of the net. Stoneman beat his mark near the goal line as Metcalf’s corner kick bent toward the six-yard-box in the 17th minute. It was Stoneman’s first goal with SD Loyal and the first score for the team since March 11 when Francis Atuahene sent in the game winner in the 85th minute of a road match against Tacoma Defiance. That match was played behind closed doors.
Against Real Monarchs SLC (0-2-0) in the league restart weekend, the doors were open to a limited number of fans. Those in attendance got a chance to see Donovan’s team control the match momentum for most of the first half.
SD Loyal, who wore its “Black Lives Matter” alternate kit, didn’t take long to create some attack. Irvin Parra had a shot blocked by the diving goalkeeper, the rebound was there for Tumi Moshobane but his left-footed shot went wide right. Eric Avila helped create the scoring chance as he dribbled in from the left and fed Parra with a low rolling shot at the top of the penalty box.
Real Monarchs SLC did create some attack with its clearest scoring chance coming in the first half. It nearly tied the match in the 34th minute when Dayonn Harris poked a ball and hit the crossbar, deflecting down near the goal line.
SD Loyal continued to try and control possession in the second half, moving the ball fluidly at midfield, creating more chances. A sliding Moshobane brought down a volley by Charlie Adams, leaving it near the goal line but Real Monarchs SLC’s Kyle Coffee cleared the ball moments before another SD Loyal player could push it in early in the first half
Carlos Alvarez also saved a Real Monarchs opportunity at the goal line in the 86th minute to help seal the shutout and second-consecutive win for Donovan’s team.
SD Loyal will now return for its first home match since the inaugural match against Las Vegas Lights FC March 7. Donovan’s team is slated to face Galaxy II Sunday July 19 at USD Torero Stadium in a Group B match.