Torero Stadium- San Diego, California
The sun was down, and the lights were bright as the Loyal hosted their first true home game at Torero Stadium as a member of the USL Championship. It was just a preseason friendly, but the city of San Diego showed their support by packing the stadium with over 4,000 in attendance.
The pace of the first half started slowly as there wasn’t much action offensively. San Diego had a few chances early on but couldn’t get a shot on goal.
When the 33rd minute came around, forward Irvin Parra went down hard about 18 yards from the box. But the referee said “play on,” and the players and fans expressed their frustration on the call.
The first half was winding down as it looked like San Diego and Costa FC would go into the break tied. But after a great run by the Loyal, midfielder Jack Metcalf was in the right place at the right time as he rebounded the deflection for a goal in the 44th minute. San Diego had a 1-0 advantage going into halftime.
The Loyal controlled a majority of the possession in the first half. Jake Fenlason had one smooth save off a header in the first half, other than that there wasn’t much action for the goalkeeper.
The second half was a different story in terms of possession and aggression. Costa FC came out firing on all cylinders in the second half as they were aggressively attacking the Loyal defenders. Costa wouldn’t come away with a goal, but they continued to put up a fight.
Both teams were going at each other in the second half. You wouldn’t believe it was just a preseason match by how hard these teams were playing. In the 60th minute, a red card was given to SD Loyal’s Irvin Parra, and San Diego was forced to finish the last 30 minutes down a man.
— Chris Spiering⚡️ (@ChrisSpiering) February 23, 2020
Donovan expressed his concern for the call. “I don’t know exactly what happened,” Donovan said. “But that kind of really killed the game. It hurts your team when you get a red card.” It was no problem for San Diego as they secured the 1-0 victory, despite only having ten men to finish the game.
Coach Donovan was pleased with his teams’ performance with only having a short time to prepare.”All and all, I think a very good performance,” Donovan said. “It was a good night for San Diego. This is a group of players who have never played together and have only had five weeks of training. So after five weeks, it was a big plus for us, and we are happy with it.”
Metcalf discusses what happened on his lone goal on the night. “It was one of those plays where you take a gamble,” Metcalf said. “I was in front of the goal, and all I had to do was put it in. So I was just in the right place at the right time.”
Before the game, head coach Landon Donovan spoke to the fans for 15 minutes about how excited he was to get started as a manager finally.
“The feeling I have now, watching 26 young men succeed is greater than any feeling I’ve had as a player,”Donovan said.
The city of San Diego really gave the team a great environment to play in. Metcalf shows his appreciation for the Locals. “What an atmosphere,” Metcalf said. “The fans really showed up, and to see their support for an exhibition game just gets us so excited for March 7th against Vegas, and I’m sure it will be sold out.”
March 7th will be the next time the Loyal play at home as they host Las Vegas Lights FC to kick off the regular season.