San Diego Loyal come back from two goal deficit to draw 2-2 vs Phoenix Rising

Credit: SD Loyal

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Credit: SD Loyal

The San Diego Loyal played its fourth game in the 2023 USL Championship season this Saturday, April 1, against Phoenix Rising away from home. It was the Loyal’s second consecutive road match after stumbling 1-0 against the Sacramento Republic last Saturday, March 25.

The Loyal did not pick up a victory against Phoenix but came away with a 2-2 result after being down 2-0 at one point in the match. Nate Miller did make some changes to his lineup that he used against Sacramento as Ronaldo Damus replaced Evan Conway, and Kyle Adams replaced Jackson Kasanzu after Adams returned from international duty with New Zealand.

Both Ebenezer Ackon and Charlie Adams did not even feature on the bench for Nate Miller in this match, as both players are still fighting injuries.

The first half was all Phoenix Rising, as the Loyal did not even have a shot on target in the first 45 minutes of the encounter. The first goal of the game came in the 34th minute of the match as Henry Uzochukwu sent a cross to Manuel Arteaga, who finished the opportunity to perfection inside of the penalty area. The goal was a historic one for the Venezuelan striker as it was the first-ever goal at Phoenix Rising Stadium.

Nate Miller surprisingly did not make any changes to his lineup after a dismal first 45 minutes for the San Diego Loyal. However, Miller’s halftime speech must have been inspiring as the Loyal improved massively in the second half played in the desert.

In the 62nd minute, Phoenix did extend its lead to 2-0 as Manuel Arteaga netted himself a brace after scoring off a rebound by a shot by Emil Cuello. Koke Vegas did manage to save the shot by Cuello, but Arteaga was quick to find the ball off the rebound to score his second of the night.

San Diego’s comeback began in the 71st minute as Nick Moon cut Phoenix’s deficit with a goal from inside of the penalty area. The goal was the product of a very well-constructed play by the Loyal as Collin Martin passed gave a long pass to Blake Bodily, who delivered a perfect cross to Moon.

San Diego Loyal tied the match in the 79th minute in what can only be described as madness within Phoenix’s penalty area. Ronaldo Damus initiated the scoring play with an incredible individual play on the left flank as he found space to release a shot in between three of the Rising’s defenders.

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The shot was saved by Rocco Rios Novo then a shot by Camden Riley was also saved by Rios Novo. The sphere then landed at Nick Moon’s feet, but Ronaldo Damus came sliding in to put the ball in the back of the net and tie the game for San Diego.

Koke Vegas then came through in the final minutes of the match with a double save on Carlos Harvey off a corner kick play. The Spanish goalkeeper has been arguably Loyal’s best player this season as he stayed consistent with the performances he has been putting in.

With the draw, the Loyal now improve to seven points on the season, now in third place in the USL Championship Western Conference behind San Antonio and the Sacramento Republic.

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