San Diego (July 24, 2021) –They looked at each other Saturday night, wondering what had happened. A trio of SD Loyal defenders tried to find answers to the one mistake that put coach Landon Donovan’s team in a hard spot at Torero Stadium at USD.
SD Loyal would not recover from the mistake that sent the team to a 1-0 loss against visiting Pacific Division rival Phoenix Rising, snapping a nine-match unbeaten streak. It was also the first loss at home in six matches.
It was Phoenix’s James Musa who sent in the only goal in the 9th minute of the Week 14 match. Phoenix took the early 1-0 lead when James Musa sent in a loose ball from near the goal line after a trio of SD Loyal defenders could not clear it. Joseph Farrell had sent a header to the left post off a corner before the ball ricocheted off the hands of goalkeeper Trey Muse who couldn’t hold on.
Instead, Muse and teammates celebrated the score that sent Phoenix Rising to create a herd of defenders on its own side. It kept SD Loyal from penetrating its penalty area, ultimately snapping the home team’s streak.
The last time SD Loyal (6-5-3, 21 points) lost a full match at home was more than 11 months ago. It was a 3-1 outing against now defunct Reno FC Aug. 22, 2020. On paper, it was a Sept. 30, 2020 forfeit against Phoenix Rising that was the last loss for SD Loyal (SD Loyal was winning 3-1 at that moment). It was the night players walked off the pitch after a Phoenix Rising player used a xenophobic slur against SD Loyal midfielder Collin Martin. That incident intensified an already hot rivalry between both teams.
“You have to be ready to defend on set pieces to win the game,” said SD Loyal captain Charlie Adams about the play that led to Phoenix’s goal. We defended the counter attack but we didn’t defend the set pieces.”
As for Phoenix sitting back to defend, Adams was quick to point out his team didn’t do things differently than other times against the team from the desert.
“They are one of the best teams in the league and they came here tonight and we played against them and they were fearful of us in the sense that they sat back,” Adams said. “We played the way we wanted to play. We played the game on our terms, and we just didn’t win tonight. According to them, they got a victory and that’s why they are a good team, I guess.”
Saturday night, temperatures were mostly mild in a physically, hard-fought match that featured Phoenix Rising sitting back waiting for a counter attack after Musa’s goal. Phoenix, a team known for its firepower, sat back and defended with nearly all its players on its side of the pitch for most of the match.
“You guys hear me talk a lot about focusing on performance more than results. The performance was almost flawless,” Donovan said. “We didn’t start the game well but after that we were very good. If you are pushing against Phoenix, you are going to give up chances. Our guys dealt with that well. Probably the one area that we could have been better at was creating overall chances. But overall, there aren’t many teams that pin Phoenix to their end of the field for long stretches like we did.”
SD Loyal will now head on a road trip, starting with a match at Tacoma Defiance Thursday July 29 and then an Aug. 1 affair at LA Galaxy II.
SD Loyal -16. Trey Muse, 5. Grant Stoneman, 14. Josh Yaro, 4. Jack Metcalf, 3. Elijah Martin, 11. Tumi Moshobane (60’ -24. Miguel Ibarra), 21. Corey Hertzog (90’ -9. Ben Spencer), 10. Alejandro Guido, 6. Charlie Adams, 17. Collin Martin (69’ -31. Chase Boone), 7. Jack Blake. Coach: Landon Donovan.
Phoenix Rising FC: 24. Andre Rawls, 2. Darnell King, 41. James Musa, 15. Joseph Farrell, 25. Tate Scmitt, 27. Kevin Lambert, 14. Aodhan Quinn, 10. Jon Bakero (79’-12. Arturo Rodriguez), 7. Santi Moar (79’ -21. Joseph Calistri), 9. Rufat Dadashov (65’ -56. David Egbo), 20. Solomon Asante (90+- 6. Noah Billingsley). Coach: Rick Shantz.