Despite adding forwards Ronaldo Damus and Adrien Perez in the last few weeks, head coach Nate Miller expressed that defense is what they are working on the most.
San Diego Loyal led the USL Championship in goals scored for the entire season in 2022 until very late in the campaign. They knew how to score, and that was their primary focus was trying to win by a large margin. However, this season is different.
After losing top scorers Kyle Vassell and Thomas Amang, the Loyal replaced them with proven attackers. Yet, after the 1-0 win over Detroit City FC in the opener, Miller had this to say about the training.
“Our priority this preseason was working on our ‘whole team’ defending,” Miller said. “So, it’s normal that we weren’t extremely sharp and I was a bit disappointed with how we moved the ball but we are only going to get a lot better at that. The clean sheet was big and our time with the ball and how we break down opponents I promise you will improve a lot.”
Miller and the Loyal were not pleased with the 58 goals they allowed last season. Vegas missed a few games due to an injury, and former Loyal keeper Austin Guerrero allowed seven goals in two starts. It wasn’t just the random goals scored throughout the match, it was the late-game dramatics that really hurt this team. A few times last season, the Loyal allowed late goals that changed the outcome of the match.
Every touch, tackle, and finish. 📺
The 𝙚𝙭𝙩𝙚𝙣𝙙𝙚𝙙 match highlights from #SDvDET are now live on our YouTube.
— San Diego Loyal (@SanDiegoLoyal) March 13, 2023
Miller and the Loyal defense are focused on a new style of play, which should work with the current team chemistry.
“To be dominant you have to control your opponent in every phase and that is hard,” Miller said. “We are going to try and keep finding the right pieces, the right chemistry, and we’re also going the be flexible too with how our shape up front looks and how we can hurt teams.”
The first battle ended with a result the team was pleased with. They saw a clean sheet earned in a low-scoring affair. We might see a lot of those this season, and if that is the case, then SD Loyal can form one of the best defensive units in the USL.
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.