San Diego (July 14, 2021) -What appeared to be San Diego Loyal’s first defeat at home this 2021 USL Championship season, quickly changed. Manager Landon Donovan’s team was down a goal and down a man late in the match with only 10 men on the pitch. Then everything changed in the Week 13 match.
Free kick, header, goal.
Quick pass, deflection, header, goal.
Those were the two sequences that lead to a 2-1 come-from-behind win Wednesday night against visiting Orange County SC at Torero Stadium at USD. Callum Montgomery scored his first goal with the team while Tumi Moshobane scored his second, both against Orange County. SD Loyal adds three more points in the Pacific Division standings to move into a tie for second place with Orange County, with the tiebreaker favoring SD Loyal. Donovan’s team is unbeaten at home in six matches and extended its unbeaten streak to nine (6 wins, 3 draws).
Both scoring plays against Orange County came on plays that start with Jack Blake. The Englishman set up the assist as he sent a free kick into the penalty area, finding Montgomery charging the net. The defender didn’t waste his chance and sent in the pass with a header in the 74th minute. Blake helped with the game-winning goal two minutes later. He sprinted into the penalty area and flicked a pass that deflected off a defender into the six-yard box where Moshobane headed it past Orange County SC goalkeeper Abraham Romero. Moshobane had also scored in the first meeting between these two teams earlier this season. It was a 1-1 draw in Irvine.
This time in San Diego, Moshobane was at the right place when Blake sent that pass off the defender.
“They were very similar goals,” Moshobane said. “Both were headers. I’ll take them both. In the end is about helping the team and I am very proud of myself. And I am proud of my team. When we lost Stoney (Grant Stoneman) to a red card it was still eleven versus eleven because of our supporters. They give us energy and gives us the extra boots to keep fighting.”
Moshobane was talking about defender Grant Stoneman being sent off in the 60th minute after receiving a second yellow card. Stoneman’s ejection came at a time in which SD Loyal (6-4-3, 21 points) was creating chances but not playing the style Donovan wanted to see. Orange County took advantage of the extra space and took a 1-0 lead with a goal by Eero Markkanen off a pass by Miko Kuningas on a quick run into the penalty area.
“There are times during the year when you aren’t perfect. We weren’t perfect tonight,” Donovan said. “We were pretty good but you see what you’re team is made of. I’m just really proud of the effort and performance. It’s nothing we do for them to respond that way. They have good character. Our guys always keep going.”
Montgomery, who sent in his header to begin the comeback, echoed his manager’s thoughts.
“It was a great performance by the boys, I am very proud of everybody,” Montgomery said. “You go down a man and at that point you want to keep playing there’s a lot of game left you don’t want to bunker in. Your emotions are low at that point. We get that goal and put some spark into the team and you realize that you can get out of this game.”
And as for his goal, Montgomery said he just wanted to score.
“At that point, you just want to hit the net,” Montgomery said. “Either the goalkeeper makes a save or it goes in. I just wanted to hit the net. It was an unbailable ball from Blake off the set piece. Tumi also came off clutch in the end. It was a bit of a roller coaster game.”
SD Loyal’s next game is July 24 in a home match against Pacific Division leader Phoenix Rising after a weekend off.
Orange County SC – 33. Abraham Romero, 16. Brent Richards, 4. Rob Kiernan, 6. Michael Orozco, 24. Nathan Smith, 13. Tommy McCabe, 14. Chris Wehan, 15. Eric Calvillo, 25. Mikko Kuningas, 9. Eero Markkanen, 10. Brian Iloski. Coach: Braeden Cloutier