Scottsdale, Ariz. (Sept. 19, 2020) – Zac Lubi buried his head into the dry grass Saturday night. The Phoenix Rising FC goalkeeper then lifted his neck just in time to see Rubio Rubin diving onto his stomach and sliding across the pitch.
The SD Loyal midfielder had just sent in his third goal of the night in a 3-2 win against host Phoenix Rising FC in a USL Championship thrilling match at Casino Arizona Field in front 1,000 fans.
Rubin was quickly joined by teammates after sending in his last goal for the “hat-trick” (3rd, 12th and 45+ minute) that helped coach Landon Donovan’s team to a third-straight win and another three points in the Group B standings. SD Loyal moves into second place and remains in the hunt for a post season spot in its inaugural season, thanks in part to Rubio’s performance against the first-place team in Arizona.
The Oregon native has four goals with SD Loyal (6-4-4, 22 points) since joining the club Sept. 1. He scored in his debut in the 20th minute of a 3-0 win at LA Galaxy II Sept. 9. He is the only player to score in multiple games. Rubin had not scored a goal before coming to SD Loyal since a Feb. 27 score with Dorados de Sinaloa of the Mexican Liga Expansion (second division).
Against Phoenix Rising FC Saturday, Rubin was a wrecking force from the start. He sent an early one in the third minute off a quick touch by Jack Metcalf, who brought down a pin-point floating pass by Alejandro Guido from left to right. Rubin fired the shot past Lubin in Phoenix Rising FC’s first loss at home this season.
Rubio scored again in the 12th minute when he beat two defenders and squeezed a left-footed shot between the left post and Lubin after faking to the right. Guido with another pin-point assist on the play from outside the penalty box for the 2-0 SD Loyal lead.
Phoenix Rising FC (8-3-2, 26 points) answered Rubio’s goal with a score by Junior Flemmings in the 41st minute. Flemmings fired a right-footed shot just inside the right post and a diving Kempin to cut the lead 2-1. The striker squeezed his shot before the SD Loyal defense could close in and reduce space. Kempin got fingers on the ball but the shot was fast enough to get into the net.
It was the second goal allowed by Kimpin in 400 minutes. He was coming off back-to-back clean sheets behind a reenforced back line with the addition of Tarek Morad early this month.
SD Loyal answered the Phoenix goal with Rubio’s third of the night in first half stoppage time. Rubio sent in his third of the match in stoppage time after he broke through the right side between two defenders, faked another and then fired his left-footed shot off a fourth defender into the net for the 3-1 lead.
As much as the SD Loyal offense has been on a streak the last three matches, so has the defense and goalkeeping. Kempin made a standout save in the 23rd minute when he came off his line to face Rufat Dadashov and forced the Phoenix Rising striker to fire a shot wide right on a one-on-one play.
Kempin. who left late in a match with an injury, and his backline held its ground until late in the match when Phoenix Rising continued to push and scored in the 88th minute. Flemmings added his second of the night when he headed in a cross. The home side thought it had scored a few minutes earlier but the goal was disallowed.
SD Loyal, who finished with 10 men after Grant Stoneman was sent off for a second yellow in stoppage time, had a goal disallowed as well right before the end of regulation. Ben Spencer headed in a ball but he was called offsides on the play.
SD Loyal will now return from the desert to prepare for a midweek match at LA Galaxy II Wednesday Sept. 23 at Dignity Health Sports Park.