San Diego Loyal vs. Oakland Roots SC
Sunday, October 23 at 7 p.m.
Torero Stadium – University of San Diego
The San Diego Loyal are back into the playoffs once again! In just the third season in the USL Championship, the Loyal have been one of the top teams in the West and will now participate in the postseason for the second season in a row.
San Diego finished last season with a loss in the first round to San Antonio FC. They battled in what was the first action after the covid-19 break but lost to a very good team. Now, San Antonio has the top seed in the Western Conference this year and will have a bye in the first round of this postseason.
The Loyal ended the 2022 campaign with an (18-10-6) record and 60 total points. San Antonio finished with a massive 77 points and lost only five matches all season long. The Oakland Roots ended the season as the final seed after a great run toward the end of the year. They finished tied with El Paso Locomotive with 46 points but had the advantage in goal difference by 14.
This season was a successful one for the Loyal and manager Landon Donovan. The Loyal were the top-scoring team all season long until the last few weeks, where they already knew what seed they would be in the playoffs. SD ends as the No. 2 scoring team behind the Tampa Bay Rowdies with 68 goals. TB finished with 73 and jumped SD after they scored eight in one game earlier this month against Loudoun FC.
Forward Kyle Vassell really established himself this season with 14 goals to lead the team. Captain Charlie Adams ended with a team-high eight assists to really boost their offensive attack. Keeper Koke Vegas finished with 74 saves in 30 matches which was good for ninth, along with two others. Vassell was tied for 10th in scoring with Danny Trejo.
Get To Know Oakland Roots SC
The Roots won four of the final six matches of the campaign to sneak their way into the postseason. This squad also made the playoffs last year and took town the top-seeded El Paso Locomotive 1-0 to upset them in the first round. Oakland would then fall to the champion Orange County SC in penalties in the next round. The Roots won a playoff game in their inaugural season and have that advantage over the Loyal, despite a 14-point difference.
San Diego can not take this team lightly at all. Oakland defeated them 3-1 in SD the last time they met in August. Evan Conway scored the opening goal, but the Roots scored three unanswered to steal three points on the road. The first time they met in April ended in a 2-2 draw in The Bay.
It’s all about next week. pic.twitter.com/4DUCC1PZkV
— San Diego Loyal (@SanDiegoLoyal) October 16, 2022
Oakland has the third-leading scorer in the USL Championship in Ottar Magnus Karlsson. He ended the season with 19 goals and two assists in 30 appearances. Before the last match that resulted in a 3-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Karlsson scored a goal in four-straight matches. He is a threat to score any time he has possession, and the Loyal will focus on not letting him defeat them. If the Loyal can keep him scoreless, then that gives them a huge shot, as he has just under 50% of their scoring.
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The Loyal play a lot better in front of the fans at Torero Stadium, as they should bring a ton of energy for the players. This is a great time to be a fan of SD sports. Not only have the Padres advanced to the NLCS, but the Wave won the first playoff match as well. Expect Torero to be rocking all night long as the Loyal get ready to host their first-ever postseason match.
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.