Happy home hunting for dominant Loyal

Credit: Josh Jimenez/EVT

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Credit: Josh Jimenez/EVT

The San Diego Loyal returned home in the best way possible, dominating the lowly Hartford Athletic, who never looked comfortable. Captain Charlie Adams got the scoring starting before Thomas Amang doubled the lead. An own goal from Hartford secured the win, sending the “Locals” into a frenzy. 

Landon Donovan opted for an aggressive 3-4-3 formation, putting a lot of bodies forwards, pressuring the Hartford defense. Hartford manager Harry Watling chose a classic 4-4-2 formation, with former Loyal player Corey Hertzog serving as a target man.

The Loyal looked extremely happy to be home, dominating the early minutes of the game. San Diego had nearly all of the ball early on, probing cautious attacks at the Hartford defense. Donovan appeared to have instructed the Loyal to search for Thomas Amang, who scored a brace in the Loyal’s draw with New York Red Bulls II. The midfield directed long balls in his direction all match.

Credit: Josh Jimenez/EVT

While San Diego did produce a curling shot from Kyle Vassell, as well as a few set pieces, they did not have any clear-cut opportunities early. Hartford responded as Loyal defender Elijah Martin picked up a yellow card while preventing a counterattack. While Hartford did win the first corner of the game, the Loyal quickly countered. Amang picked up the ball just inside the Loyal half before racing towards the goal. Hartford defenseman Conor McGlynn executed a slide tackle on Amang, which was right on the edge of the penalty box, drawing cries for both a penalty and a red card. However, referee Malik Badawi gave McGlynn just a yellow while saying the foul occurred outside the area.

The pressure brought Hartford manager Harry Watling to a boiling point as he began to argue a foul call. Watling was given a red card, leaving Hartford without their manager for the remainder of the match.

After immense pressure on Hartford, the dam finally broke in the 29th minute. The Loyal forced a turnover deep in Hartford’s half, with the ball falling to captain Charlie Adams. Adams, who was on the edge of the box, took a flier, hitting a curling ball towards goal. Hartford goalie Jimmy Slayton got his hand to it, but the shot was too powerful, trickling into the net.

After the Loyal scored, Hartford began to find their footing in the game. They took a shot from long range, but San Diego goalie Jon Kempin could only deflect it. The rebound fell to Hertzog, who looked like he might level the game, but Kempin managed to get enough of Hertzog’s shot to clear it.

Amang looked certain to double the Loyal advantage when he broke clear in the 37th minute, but a stellar slide tackle from Younes Boudadi to keep the Loyal’s lead at one. Amang would not be denied for long, as he found his way onto the scorer’s sheet in the 43rd minute.

The Loyal broke on a counter, and Nick Moon executed a beautiful drag-back pass, setting Amang up to fire home the second goal of the night.

Loyal manager Landon Donovan said that he would “Take Amang and Vassell versus anyone in a two on two.” while also saying they were the reason the Loyal led the USL in goals scored. Hartford played some of their best football in the moments before the half, but Kempin was up to the task. 

In the second half of the match, the game calmed down a lot. Hartford had a lot more of the ball, but San Diego’s defense was able to withstand the pressure. With the two-goal advantage, the Loyal seemed content to hold Hartford’s attack. Charlie Adams picked up a yellow card as the chippiness of the game began to heat up.

“Teams like this want to try and figh, Charlie Adams said.” “And the most important thing is that we match that. We’re not going to be rolled over, we’re going to fight as well.”

As the second half went on, the Loyal appeared comfortable on the counterattack, setting themselves up with opportunity after opportunity. The Loyal finally found their third goal, coming via an own goal. Rashawn Dally put the ball in the back of the net, deflecting an effort from Vassell past Yannik Oettl, who replaced Jimmy Slayton in the back of the net. 

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The match finished 3-0 to the Loyal, who dominated the entire match. It was the first win in four matches for the Loyal, who were very happy to be back home. Adams praised about how much the fans helped them.

It was the first clean sheet since March 19, the second match of the season for the Loyal. The Loyal moved up to third in the Western Conference with the win. The next match is Sunday, June 19, at home against the Las Vegas Lights. 

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