San Diego Loyal scoreless in last three matches, lose 2-0 vs Phoenix Rising FC


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SD Loyal

The San Diego Loyal have now lost two in a row and three in their last five matches after losing 2-0 to the Phoenix Rising FC. Phoenix dominated the match and continue to look like the top team in Group B of the USL Championship.

San Diego’s record sits at 3-2-3, which is till currently good for 2nd place.

Team 1 came out with a loss last time out to Orange County SC this past Wednesday. Orange County scored two second-half goals en route to their 2-0 victory and their second in a row.

Entering Saturday, Phoenix leads the USL Championship in scoring with 19 goals. The Rising also have a league-leading +13 goal difference.

Manager Landon Donovan prepared Team 1 for this heavy-firing opponent, and especially for the heat.  The temperature at the start of the match reached 108 degrees.

It was no surprise to see Donovan start the match with a 5-4-1 formation. Francis Atuahene was the lone forward, and Jake Fenlason started as the goal guardian.

Jack Metcalf started as one of the five defenders. Wednesday, he started as the only forward for the Loyal. His all-around play allows Donovan to be flexible and put him where he is needed.

The first 25 minutes of the match didn’t have much action. Phoenix controlled the possession and had a few opportunities for a shot but couldn’t come up with anything.

Starting with five defenders paid off early on but right when the 26th minute hit, Rising’s Junior Flemmings connected with a rocket from about 10-yards-out of the penalty box.

The score was 1-0, and the Rising looked to add to their league-leading goal difference.

Late in the first half, defender Elijah Martin put one past the Phoenix goalkeeper on the header but was called for offsides. Tensions flared afterward as Martin almost received a yellow card for loudly expressing his thoughts on the call to the head-referee, although it was to the referee who did not blow the whistle and make the call.

The first half ended 1-0. The Loyal did an impressive job maintaining the Rising possessional-offense but did give up a strike that would have taken a world-class effort to block.

Phoenix controlled a 60% possession advantage and had nine shots with three on target. San Diego finished with two on target out of seven shots at the break.

Before the second half started, Donovan subbed midfielder Eric Avila for midfielder Collin Martin.

In the 59th minute, Darnell King drilled another powerful shot from outside the goal-box for a 2-0 advantage.

San Diego couldn’t find a rhythm going on offense. Inconsistent passing lead to only a 75% pass accuracy on the Phoenix side of the field before the 80th minute.

The Loyal defenders did all they could to save the two-score game. Right around the 80th minute, a few brilliant saves in a row kept the score where it was. Defender Grant Stoneman saved a goal of his own at the goal-line, and keeper Fenlason helped with a diving save seconds later.

There were a few chances late for San Diego, but it wasn’t enough as Phoenix came away with the 2-0 victory.

The Rising controlled the game as they usually do. Donovan and the Loyal will look to improve as they have now gone three-straight matches without a goal.

The next match for San Diego is at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 22, against Reno 1868 FC. All matches can be streamed on ESPN+ and The CW San Diego.

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