SD Loyal lose first match of the season 1-0 against LA Galaxy II

Credit: ESPN

The San Diego Loyal returned home for the first time in over four months to take on the Los Angeles Galaxy II.

After a hard-fought match between San Diego and SLC Real Monarchs last week, the Loyal left Utah with another three points, which put them in a tie for first place in Group B of the USL Championship.

Defeating the reigning USL Champions and their seven points out of a possible nine so far is an impressive start for Team 1 and Manager Landon Donovan.

Donovan once again started with a 4-2-3-1 formation with Loyal top goal scorer Francis Atuahene as the lone forward and goalkeeper Jon Kempin getting back-to-back starts since the restart of the season.

Atuahene was all over the place in the first half as he had multiple chances for a goal but just missed on his attempts. The Ghana footballer seemed to be on his game, but a few unlucky finishes held him and the rest of the Loyal scoreless.

The first goal of the match didn’t come until the 72nd minute when LA Captain Jesus Misael Vazquez finished with a header off the short cross from Augustine Williams. Galaxy II had the 1-0 advantage right before the final hydration break.

Donovan switched up the tactics in the second half and subbed in forward Beverly Makangila for midfielder Collin Martin, changing the formation to a 4-4-2.

With a free-kick late in the 90th minute, San Diego had a chance just outside the box on the right side to even the score, but the Englishman Charlie Adams missed high.

The Loyal couldn’t find the rhythm late in the game to even the score and lost 1-0. But early on in the match seemed to be where San Diego really had their chance to make their mark on this one, and they just missed their opportunities.

Despite the loss, Kempin saved a season-high seven shot attempts and finished as the Man of the Match. With more than a few brilliant denies, Kempin showcased his goal-saving capability as an eight-year veteran. The Kansas native now has eight saves in three appearances in goal.

LA finished with 18 shots attempts to San Diego’s eight. Without Kempin tonight, who knows how many goals Galaxy II would have finished with.

The experience of Los Angeles was the prominent factor in this match as possession was one-sided for the most part in the first half and finished the match at 54%. LA had an 82% pass percentage to San Diego’s 72%.

The Loyal ended with four yellow cards while Galaxy II finished with two. That marks 12 yellows now on the season for San Diego with zero red cards.

Group B of the USL Championship is a tough group of teams that include the top goal-scoring team in the league (Phoenix Rising) with 11 goals in just three matches. San Diego will face the Rising August 15th on the road in Phoenix. The rest of Group B features LA Galaxy II, Orange County SC, and Las Vegas Lights FC.

The Loyal remain at home next time out as the once again host Las Vegas on July 25. The match is at 5 p.m. and will be streamed on ESPN+.

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