WHAT: On Sunday, Oct. 17, San Diego Loyal is slated to face New Mexico United for the first time having already clinched a spot in the 2021 USL Championship playoffs. The Week 26 match will be broadcasted on Yurview (Cox/Spectrum 4) and Azteca America 33 in Spanish. It will also be streamed on ESPN+.
Coach Landon Donovan’s team clinched it’s first ever postseason berth after Orange County SC beat Oakland Roots Saturday night. SD Loyal reaches the postseason for the first time in only its second season in existence.
The possible scenarios coming into this weekend aligned to send Donovan’s squad to the USL Championship playoffs as it heads into its second-to-last home match of the season against New Mexico United.
Now with having reached the playoffs, SD Loyal focuses on earning another important milestone: a second place finish in the Pacific Division as the regular season winds down. The countdown continues. Phoenix Rising who has already won the division title. That means the second place slot is crucial to lock up to secure a home playoff match the first weekend of November.
SD Loyal came into the week in a good spot to clinch a spot in the postseason after it beat Sacramento Republic 2-1 in come-from-behind fashion last week with goals by Alejandro Guido and Douglas Martinez Jr. It sits in second place with 46 points, three ahead of third place Orange County, with four games remaining.
“We need that second place spot,” Donovan said. “Every point that we earn puts us in a better spot and also to get a second home game if we win the first game in the playoffs. That is why we are at 100-percent on earning that game. We have a responsibility to people who come to watch us play and that’s why we are going for it all.”
As much as Donovan talked about the importance of getting into the playoffs and playing a home match, his midfielder Alejandro Guido is thinking about more.
“This is the goal we had but we think we have a team that can do more,” Guido said about getting into the playoffs. “A championship has always been the objective. We are focused on that. We know that we have eight games left to be able to win it all but we are focused on the next game. We will remain focused until we get to that eighth game.”
To get that far, SD Loyal needs to first focus on the task at hand. Donovan said his team is taking each game at a time and this week it is against an opponent it has never faced.
Meanwhile. New Mexico United is fighting for a playoff berth out of the Mountain Division. It sits in fifth place with a 10-9-9 record with 39 points, a spot behind being in playoff position. New Mexico United is coming off back-to-back draws against Rio Valley Grande FC and Hartford Athletic. The last draw against Rio Grande helped New Mexico to stay in the playoff race. It had lost to Louisville City FC 3-1 on Oct. 3 but before that it had won three in a row. New Mexico United has relied mostly on returning players from last season. Devon Sandoval and Josh Suggs have been a couple of key components of coach Troy Lesesne’s squad.
Playoff ticket deposits for a potential home playoff match can now be made here.
Single match tickets for regular season matches also remain and are on sale to the general public beginning at $15 and can be purchased at sdloyal.com/tickets.