WHAT: On Wednesday, Oct. 20, San Diego Loyal is slated to face Orange County SC for the last matchup of the four-match series. The Week 27 match will be broadcasted on ESPN+.
The final score: 1-1. The draw gave SD Loyal a point in the table and helped set up Wednesday’s showdown against Orange County SC. This match could decide the second spot in the Pacific Division. SD Loyal sits in second place with 47 points and Orange County trails with 43. A win and SD Loyal will clinch that coveted USL Championship playoff home match in early November. And if coach Landon Donovan’s team clinches that second spot it will do so with most of his roster healthy as players who have been out with injuries have begun to return to the field.
Jack Blake and Oliver Larraz, who had been out several weeks, returned to action as second half subs against New Mexico United. Collin Martin and Callum Montgomery had returned earlier this month.
“You could tell that there was some rust there,” Donovan said about Blake and Larraz returning. “But the idea is to get them ready so when the playoffs are here that they are flying as well. We do that out of necessity for the big picture.
“It was good to get some guys who haven’t played in a long time. We’re playing the long game here and yes, we need to win games, yes we need to get a home playoff game. But it’s also important that we get our team fully ready for the playoffs. We’re getting guys healthy. We almost have a full healthy squad now and that makes competition real and it should help push us forward.”
Moving forward, SD Loyal has to travel North up Interstate-5 to face an Orange County team that is also hungry for not just a playoff spot but to also earn a home postseason game. Orange County (12-10-7) come into this match having beaten Oakland Roots 1-0 on Oct. 16. It was that Orange County win that secured SD Loyal’s spot in the postseason. Orange County worked its way to the three points with interim head coach Richard Chaplow making some changes to the starting lineup as his team played its second of four games in a stretch of 14 days. Defender Nate Smith and midfielder Mikko Kuningas started after appearing as substitutes in a midweek victory against Phoenix Rising FC. Ben Mines scored the game-winner in the first half of that match.
Orange County is 4-3-2 since it last faced SD Loyal on Aug. 21 when it came-from-behind to beat Donovan’s team with a late goal at Torero Stadium. This is the fourth and final meeting between these clubs this season. The season series is locked at 1-1-1.
Playoff ticket deposits for a potential home playoff match can now be made here.
Single match tickets for the home regular season finale on October 24 at Torero Stadium are on sale at the special price of $10.24 for Fan Appreciation Day. Tickets can be purchased at sdloyal.com/tickets.