San Diego, Calif. (July 19, 2020) – The 2020 USL Championship season has been a collection of firsts for San Diego Loyal SC (SD Loyal). It is something that was expected from a team in its inaugural season. But it was a different type of first for coach Landon Donovan’s squad Sunday night.
SD Loyal played its first home match with no fans, giving a different vibe from its inaugural match March 7 with a raucous and noisy sold out crowd at USD Torero Stadium. This time, SD Loyal played to a 1-0 loss against visiting LA Galaxy II with the sounds of cleats striking the ball and player’s shouts echoing through the venue. It was also the team’s first defeat after starting the season unbeaten in three matches. SD Loyal (2-1-1, 7 points) came into the match with two-straight road wins, including a 2-1 win at Tacoma Defiance before the stoppage of play in March. It returned to play last week with a 1-0 win at Real Monarchs SLC before returning to San Diego for its first home match in nearly four months, allowing the second half goal Sunday night.
LA Galaxy II (2-1-0, 6 points) scored late in the second half after sending its lines to attack and pressure SD Loyal on its side of the pitch. The tactic worked when Jesus Vazquez finally broke through for a score in the 71st minute after SD Loyal goalkeeper Joe Kempin kept several LA Galaxy II balls out. Vazquez found the net on a play that began on a corner kick. Augustine Williams fed Vazquez with a header after taking a cross by Jorge Hernandez. It was a quick play into the area that caught the SD Loyal backline and Kempin off guard.
Kempin was on point for most of the game with a handful of key saves. He had stopped a pair of left-footed shot by Hernandez early in the first half. He had to continue making saves in the second half. Vasquez tried a header that floated toward goal but the SD Loyal goalkeeper was at his line to also slap this shot.
“We were fortunately, honestly, that Jon Kempin played so well,” Donovan said. “He kept us in the match but sometimes you have a bad night and you find a way to score. That would have helped us a lot. We did create some good chances but not enough to impact the game.”
SD Loyal had a combination of shots of its own. Francis Atuahene had several attempts. The Ghanian striker thought he had scored in the fourth minute. He sent in a rebound but he’s whistled offside on a play that came off a Jack Metcalf corner kick. Atuahene also had a quick shot from outside the right side of the penalty box goes inches wide to the right off a breakaway a few minutes later. His clearest opportunity came in the 40th minute when he sent a low rolling shot off the left post.
SD Loyal pressured late and into stoppage time but LA Galaxy held and earned its first three points since beating Rio Grande Valley FC in Week 1 in March.
SD Loyal now heads into the next week as it will prepare to host Las Vegas Lights FC Saturday July 25.