A late goal from Jack Blake was not enough as the Loyal remain winless through the first four matches of the season.
The San Diego Loyal arrived in Louisville with the intention of earning their first points of the season.
This first matchup between the two clubs turned out to be an entertaining one, with tensions taking over.
Manager Landon Donovan and the Loyal started in a 4-4-2 formation with Muse in goal and forward Niki Jackson starting for the first time this season. Louisville City seemed to have started in a 3-4-3 with Cameron Lancaster as one of the three forwards. Lancaster is eighth all-time in goals scored in the USL Championship with 60.
The first 45 showed back and forth attacks from both sides. Louisville City dominated a majority of possession, but neither team could put one into the back of the net. Louisville City earned a penalty kick in stoppage time, and Lancaster converted off the rebound to put City up 1-0 at the break. Jack Blake barely touched winger Napo Matsoso, but Matsoso tripped to sell the foul, and City took advantage of the call given.
As both teams were heading into their respective locker rooms, there was tension and shoving from some players. Forward Ben Spencer on the Loyal and midfielder Niall McCabe from City were issued yellow cards for the altercation.
That seemed to have really set the tone for the second half.
Both teams came out of the break looking to score and put on a show for the 7,500 fans at the stadium. Blake almost tied it before the 60-minute mark but just missed to the right of the post. Forward Corey Hertzog came on in the 68th minute and had an opportunity right away to tie the game. Blake passed a nice through-ball out front to Hertzog, but he shanked it to the left. That seemed to have been the best opportunity for the Loyal so far in the match.
Louisville City added another goal in the 88th minute to bring the score to 2-0, but the game was not over yet.
Blake scored a late goal in stoppage time to bring the score within one. San Diego never gave up and showed heart and hustle playing from behind. Before the goal, Donovan was sent off after being issued a red card. Donovan seemed clearly upset with some of the calls late in the match. Donovan may be forced to miss the first home match of the season for San Diego next Friday night.
In the 91st minute, Blake lined up from deep and sailed the ball into the back of the net for his first goal as a member of the Loyal.
— San Diego Loyal (@SanDiegoLoyal) May 23, 2021
The Loyal defenders played well all around, but it wasn’t enough to contain the former USL Champions. Donovan has to be happy with the way his defensive unit is playing to start the season, as they are keeping them in the match until the final whistle.
It’s been a frustrating start to the season for the Loyal. Four straight away matches, all leading to a loss, isn’t what anyone expected. The good news is that San Diego will now have a good amount of home matches for the next few weeks as they look to turn the tide and earn points in a tough Pacific Division.
The next match for San Diego will be at home at Torero Stadium on Friday, May 29, at 7:30 p.m. They host Las Vegas Lights FC, and the match can be seen on ESPN+, as well as Fox 5 San Diego.