Chula Vista, Calif.-
Just weeks after putting their roster in order, the SD Loyal SC hosted their first inaugural preseason match against Major League Soccer’s own FC Dallas. The match was held at the Elite Training Center in Chula Vista, where the team holds their training.
It was Super Bowl Sunday, but that didn’t stop hundreds of fans from showing up to watch their new pro soccer club represent San Diego for the first time. The Loyal were aggressive from the kickoff.
Midfielders Jerome Ngom and Tumi Moshobane continued to create good looks on the attack, and both had shots (off goal) in the first half. Amal Knight got the start in goal and was very vocal to his Loyal teammates throughout the half. Knight didn’t see much action today as the fullbacks were doing their jobs, preventing FC Dallas from getting any shots on goal.
Both teams went back and forth early on, but San Diego controlled the pace for the majority of the first half. There was no scoring action as the defenders from both sides were tackling and shielding the attackers every chance they could. San Diego created good shot attempts but wasn’t able to get any on goal as the half ended in a 0-0 tie.
The Loyal came out with a completely different lineup for the second half, but FC Dallas decided to carry on with the same lineup. The lineup for FC Dallas consisted of players on their official roster as well as members of their B team. It also had players from their academy.
The San Diego forwards seemed to be running a track meet out there as they were flying around stealing possession from FC Dallas. They continued to create good shot opportunities any chance they had. With just over 20 minutes remaining in the match, forward Francis Atuahene crossed up the FC Dallas defender a few feet from the goal box, and he sailed the ball in the back of the net for a goal, making the score 1-0. Atuahene scored the first-ever goal by SD Loyal SC, and it was a memorable one as his teammates all cheered.
— The Locals (@TheLocalsSG) February 2, 2020
FC Dallas remained determined to even up the score, but San Diego wouldn’t allow that to happen. Things got a little chippy out there, with about 10 minutes remaining in the match as players started shoving and yelling. Though nothing escalated as the referee blew his final whistle and the Loyal had won.
Midfielder Eric Avila, who was born and raised in San Diego shared his thoughts about what it was like to put on his home town’s uniform. “It means a lot to me putting on this shirt,” Avila said. “As a little kid, I always wanted to come to play for San Diego. Just representing San Diego and who we are — makes me feel proud,” Avila said.
Assistant Coach Nate Miller was thrilled to put his players to the test finally. “We had two good weeks of hard work,” Miller said. “So we just wanted to implement a lot of the things we have been working on in the training grounds. We wanted maximum intensity, and we were really happy with what we saw from the guys, and we are right on track with things.”
The Loyal confirmed that they would play their home games at Torero Stadium (on the University of San Diego campus). Their season starts on March 7th against Las Vegas Lights FC.