This match was a tale of two halves. The San Diego Loyal must be sick to their stomachs after this heartbreaking loss.
After playing one of the best halves in recent memory, the Loyal allowed two late goals in the second half to lose the match 2-1. They led at the break and tried to add on in the second. That plan backfired to concede two late goals to one of the top teams in the USL Championship.
San Diego fell to (6-5-5) on the season with 23 points on the season. That moves them down to 6th in the Western Conference for the time being. Pittsburgh improved to (8-2-6) on the season with 30 points. That moves them up to first in the Eastern Conference.
Manager Nate Miller issued a 3-5-2 lineup with Koke Vegas in goal. Elliot Collier and Evan Conway started at forwards, and Joe Corona, Alejandro Guido, and Adrian Perez controlled the midfield, with Nick Moon and Camden Riley on the wings.
Miller wanted to start with an offensive lineup going against one of the tougher defensive squads in the USL. His plan certainly worked in the first half. The Loyal executed their game plan to perfection in the first 45 as the Loyal continued to dominate possession 58% to 42%.
Oddly enough, their offensive plan allowed them to have a perfect half on the defensive side of the pitch as well. Pittsburgh did not attempt a single shot in the first half. The approached the penalty box a few times, but nothing scared Vegas one bit.
SD played their style and eventually found the first goal in the 41st minute, thanks to a huge run from Perez.
— San Diego Loyal (@SanDiegoLoyal) June 24, 2023
Perez nailed in his fourth goal of the season and has shown to be a great addition to this Loyal squad.
SD took a 1-0 lead into the break. They led with six shot attempts to none.
The Riverhounds attempted their first shot of the match in the 55th minute, and Bernardo Forbes missed it wide left by about 30 feet. The defense for the Loyal continued to give Pittsburgh fits in their own stadium. Around the same time as the missed shot, Pittsburgh started to threaten Vegas.
The Riverhounds entered this match a bit short-handed because of international duty. Not to mention, starting defender Nathan Dossantos exited the match in the 17th minute due to an injury. Starting goalkeeper Jahmali Waite was called up to the Jamaican National Team to face the USMNT Saturday night in Chicago. They started Luis Zamudio, who is on loan from MLS’s D.C. United (old friend Miguel Berry’s teammate).
Perez tried to welcome Zamudio to the USL as he sent a laser from midfield to try and take a 2-0 advantage.
— San Diego Loyal (@SanDiegoLoyal) June 25, 2023
That missed opportunity proved to be beneficial for Pittsburgh as just a few minutes later … they evened the score. The Riverhounds took advantage of the mishap and found their rhythm. In the 68th minute, Tola Showunmi nailed in the equalizer past the stunned Vegas.
San Diego really needed to keep that advantage, but their mission was to add on and not be content with the 1-0 lead. SD tried to keep scoring, but a little too much aggression caused them to give up the equalizer. Miller and his squad knew that his team would need to score multiple goals to win this match.
As the Loyal tried to win the match late in the game, they allowed a header for the goal from Abdul Illal Osumanu. The free kick set up the goal, which was given cause of a foul from Kyle Adams.
This is a frustrating result for the Loyal, who really showed up to play in the second half. San Diego must learn to finish matches if they want to be as successful as they were a year ago, finishing with the 2nd seed in the West.
The next game for the Loyal is once again on the road July 1 against Indy XI. San Diego has not won a match since May 20.
Match News & Notes
- Captain Alejandro Guido exited the match in the 38th minute due to a lower-body injury. He tried to play out the rest of the first half but was unable to. Collin Martin replaced Guido.
- Tumi Moshobane replaced Collier in the 61st minute.
- Nate Miller was issued a yellow card in the 65th minute.
- Elijah Martin and Charlie Adams entered the match in the 85th minute.
- Adams made his return to the pitch for the first time after missing a handful of matches with a lower-body injury.
Chris is a graduate of the University of San Diego. He is the former Sports Editor for the USDVista newspaper. Chris is also an athlete and is huge fan of San Diego sports. Chris has covered the San Diego Loyal, and contributes regularly about the Padres.