San Diego Loyal defeat Oakland Roots 4-2; Clinch home playoff match

Credit: SD Loyal

Credit: SD Loyal

The San Diego Loyal have clinched a playoff match at Torero Stadium. 

With just one match remaining in the regular season, you will get the chance to see the Loyal play at least one more time in front of the home crowd. 

“I’m just so happy for our supporters,” Head coach Nate Miller said. “We talked a lot this week about giving them a gift and that is what we wanted to do. Tonight was a special night. As a team, we are just trying to repay our supporters for all their support.” 

The final regular-season home match for the Loyal ended, as you could imagine. With 5k+ fans screaming until the final whistle. 

Many expected this to be a close affair as Oakland has given the Loyal fits for the last few years. Instead, the match was over at the end of the first half. The Loyal commanded a massive three-goal advantage, and there was nothing Oakland could do to respond. 

The Loyal improved to (15-9-9) with 54 points, which keeps them in fourth place in the Western Conference. With a win from Orange County SC on Saturday night, they continue to hold the tiebreaker over the Loyal. 

Miller issued a 1-3-5-2 formation with Koke Vegas in goal. Ronaldo Damus and Evan Conway started at forwards while Charlie Adams handled the captain duties in what could have been his final home match as captain. 

Luckily, the captain will have the honor of wearing the armband at least one more time at Torero. 

The match started with a scare. The Roots connected with a goal off a volley that flew right past Koke Vegas to start the scoring. As you can see, based on the final score, the Loyal adjusted quickly. 

“Knowing there is finality creates urgency,” Miller said. “Sometimes at the end of the year you don’t know what is going to happen the next year. We are trying to harnice high performance when there is so much emotion going on.” 

Joe Corona proceeded to nail in the equalizer in the 17th minute off a header assisted by Blake Bodily.

The San Diego native brought his hometown supporters to an applause as he recognized the crowd after the goal.

Before you could even blink, San Diego scored again. On the fastbreak, Ronaldo Damus drilled in the go-ahead goal, assisted by Bodily for his second assist of the night.

The Loyal put it all together to finish off the half. 

Damus scored again moments later as Torero Stadium was as loud as it had ever been. Damus nailed in the fifth goal in his last two home matches. Could a back-to-back Player of the Week honor be in store for Damus?

Last but certainly not least, San Diego scored their fourth and final goal of the first half. The magician Adrian Perez stunned the crowd with a magnificent goal from deep.

That banger from Perez has Goal of the Week potential.

“Motivation,” Perez said after being asked what we can expect for the home playoff match. “We are hungry and I think this being the last season we are really going to go out with a bang.”

The pace of the second half went as you would expect as the Loyal played to keep their lead. There was aggression early on, but you could tell the Loyal didn’t want to make a mistake. Luckily, Oakland didn’t score again until the 82nd minute, when the match was practically out of reach. 

Former Loyal defender Emrah Klimenta scored the goal in the 82nd for Oakland, but the match was a wrap after that. 

San Diego accomplished their immediate goal. 

The Loyal will travel to Las Vegas to end the regular-season campaign against the last place Lights. 

The home playoff match will be Sunday, Oct 22, at 7 p.m. at Torero Stadium. The opponent is yet to be determined. 

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