San Diego Loyal defeat Phoenix Rising FC 3-0

Credit: Jeremy Collins/ EVT Sports

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Credit” Jeremy Collins/ EVT Sports

The San Diego Loyal showed up at Torero Stadium in dominant fashion once again. They took down Phoenix Rising 3-0 to improve to (2-0-0) with six points on the season. They also earned their second straight clean sheet to start the campaign showing dominance on both sides of the pitch.

“Honestly I thought we defended very well,” head coach Nate Miller said. “We knew with how open they were in transition that we would be able to counterattack pretty much every time we won it. It was a trade off we were willing to take and we definitely had the more dangerous chances.”

Coach Miller saw Alejandro Guido and Grant Stoneman return to the lineup after serving a 1-game suspension carrying over from the 2022 season. Koke Vegas started in goal, and Blake Bodily started for the first time at wing-defender for the Loyal. Miller issued a different formation that usual, as Bodily and Nick Moon played on the outside, allowing Stoneman, Kyle Adams, and Ebenezer Ackon to focus on the middle defense.

The match started with intensity from both sides. You could tell the rivalry was still intact as the players were chirping through the first 10 minutes of the match.

It took about a quarter of the way through, but Phoenix started to play more aggressively. They started the match playing keep-away from the Loyal but fired two shots (one on goal) in about a two-minute span.

Credit: Jeremy Collins: EVT Sports

The Rising’ game plan was to try and play keep-away from the Loyal in the first half. It almost worked, as the Loyal had just one attempt thorough the first 43 minutes of the match. However, the moment finally came.

Evan Conway drilled in the first goal of the match in the 44th minute to put San Diego up front 1-0 at the half. Both sides were filling out the defense for a majority of the half, but the Loyal found their chance and took it.

Conway is going to score a lot of goals for the Loyal this season. His first one was a beauty.

The 25-year-old striker ended with nine goals in 2022 and should surpass that number if he continues to play as he has early in this campaign.

Phoenix managed to attempt nine shots in the first half, with six being from inside the box. Vegas and the Loyal defenders did a great job of not allowing a clean attempt.

The Rising kept coming. They attempted another pair of shots in less than a minute, and either one could have evened the score. Danny Trejo just missed the shot to the left of the net, and then Koke Vegas made a great save to once again keep the advantage with less than 30 to play.

Making his Loyal debut, Ronaldo Damus replaced Conway and then proceeded to score a goal in quite the fashion. Damus drilled a shot from the left side of the box, and there was nothing Rocco Rios Novo could do.

He celebrated the goal by doing the famous Cristiano Ronaldo celebration. The Loyal will have a dominant attack, with Damus and Conway leading the way.

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Blake Bodily scored the final goal of other match in the 90th minute to put Phoenix away altogether. SD won by a dominant three-goal advantage to give them much confidence heading into next weekend.

Bodily was asked what it mean to score in his first start with the Loyal, even though had short stints with the team before.

“It means a lot you know,” Bodily said. “To be out here with all these fans and to get a goal in my first start means everything. I’m grateful I scored but most importantly I’m glad we won.”

The next match for the Loyal will be next Saturday, March 25, on the road to face Sacramento Republic.

Match News and Notes

  • Collin Martin replaced captain Charlie Adams in the 60th minute after leaving the match with a lower-body injury. Adams handed the captain band to Guido.
  • Forward Elliot Collier replaced Tumi Moshobane in the 63rd minute. Midfielder Camden Riley subbed in for Joe Corona a few min later.
  • Collier played very well in his action, creating two chances resulting in two goals (Damus/Bodily). After the match, Collier yelled, “That’s my guy,” directed at Bodily.

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