The Phoenix Rising hand the San Diego Loyal their first home loss of the 2021 season.
The nine-game unbeaten streak officially ended tonight. The Loyal battled to the final three whistles, but couldn’t get a shot to connect. It seemed as if the Loyal would even the score with the possession they were earning, but couldn’t find the equalizer.
San Diego actually played really well, despite the close loss.
“You guys hear me talk a lot about focusing on performance more than results,” Manager Landon Donovan said. “The performance was almost flawless. We didn’t start the game very well, but after that we were good.”
Ahead of tonight’s’ match, San Diego introduced two new additions to the roster. Forward Chase Boone and midfielder Haji Abdikadir are welcomed with the chance to earn crucial minutes down the stretch of the season.
Boone suited up and was avaliable as a substitute in Saturday’s match. He entered the match late to make his Loyal debut.
Donovan started off with what looked to be a 4-2-3-1 formation with Trey Muse in goal for the Loyal. Tumi Moshobane earned a start at left-midfielder and forward Corey Hertzog up front. Defender Grant Stoneman indeed got the start, as the USL vacated his red card from the previous match. Charlie Adams once again started at midfielder and wore the captain’s armband.
Phoenix connected early in the match with a goal off a corner kick. The ball was placed a little too far but the header and loose ball found the back of the net, despite multiple Loyal defenders in the area.
— Phoenix Rising FC (@PHXRisingFC) July 25, 2021
The rest of the half didn’t live up to the hype of the matchup. Both teams looked a little sloppy and neither team could find a rhythm. Phoenix managed to sneak one in the back of the net, but besides that, didn’t look themselves out there either.
San Diego tried to create their chances and almost leveled the match late in the half. SD ended up getting two shot-attempts off but neither were on target. The Rising finished the half with seven shot attempts with two on target.
Even though Phoenix scored first, the Loyal dominated possession throughout the half — finishing at 73%. Both teams played physical as they usually do. Fouls were called on both sides but the head official never issued a card in the first half.
“If you look at the game and look at the stats, you’ll see a lot of possession there,” Adams said. “The possession that we had was pretty good possession and we created some chances out of it. We just need to be a bit more clinical.”
The second half was a full-on battle. There was nothing the Loyal wouldn’t do to maintain the ball. The tensions started to rise and the cards started to come out. Despite the efforts, the Loyal just couldn’t level the scoring to force a draw.
“When it’s one versus two, the small moments are what matter. When you sleep for a second you get punished.”
Elijah Martin on the lessons the club will take from tonight’s 1-0 loss. pic.twitter.com/a66rJMZKgJ
— San Diego Loyal (@SanDiegoLoyal) July 25, 2021
San Diego heads to Tacoma, Washington this Thursday, July 29 to take on the Defiance. Tacoma is currently fifth in the Pacific Division and San Diego dropped to third after the loss. Orange County SC and Sacramento Republic FC finished in a 2-2 draw. That one point allows OC to move into second place with 22 points.