San Diego Loyal defeat Las Vegas Lights 2-1

Credit: SD Loyal

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Credit: SD Loyal

The San Diego Loyal clinch home field advantage for the first round of the playoffs with win in Las Vegas.

The Lights quickly felt the heat as the Loyal found a way to score two goals in the first four minutes of the match. Kyle Vassell and Elijah Martin put the Loyal up early and they would ultimately hold on for the victory.

San Diego improves to (18-9-4) with 58 points and a (+17) goal difference. SD remains in second place in the Western Conference where they will now get a chance to play in front of their home crowd one extra time.

As for Vegas, they now sit at (10-13-7) with 37 points and a (-15) goal difference. Sin City still has a chance to jump into the postseason if they finish out the season strong.

Saturday night’s match saw a core out there that was different from what we are used to seeing in the starting XI. Jack Blake and Andrew Carleton started in place of Collin Martin and captain Charlie Adams. Rather than start the usual two defensive midfielders, manager Landon Donovan issued an offensive-minded formation. Tumi Moshobane and Vassell started up front with Alejandro Guido alongside Evan Conway in the mid to try and create more pressure.

It certainly paid off. I’m not sure even Donovan could’ve guessed that Vassell would sneak a goal in just 16 seconds into the match.

That finish from Vassell was the fasted goal this season in the USL Championship and the fasted in club history.

Now of course, that goal didn’t come because of the formation change. That was just a lack of awareness from the Vegas side defenders. The next goal from Martin, shows why Donovan made the change.

The Loyal attackers put the pressure on the Vegas defenders early and it allowed Martin to creep up and slice one in the back of the net for his first goal of the season. Speaking of goals, the Loyal remain the top goal-scoring unit so far this season with a league-high 61 goals through Saturday.

After those two goals, SD had a hard time trying to add on to their lead. They were shut down for the rest of the half and couldn’t create many chances. Adams and Collin Martin subbed into the match in the second half and helped keep the Lights from leveling the score. LV did find the back of the net in the 71st minute from Danny Trejo, but that was all they could manage.

After losing three straight, the Loyal found a win to win two in a row and are back in a groove again. There is just three matches to go in the season.

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The Loyal travel to Orange County for their next match on October 1. That is followed by the final regular season home match against New Mexico United and then they end the season in Sacramento as they take on the Republic.

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