The San Diego Loyal are back in The Bay

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Monterey Bay Union FC vs. San Diego Loyal SC

Cardinale Stadium – Monterey

Saturday, September 3 at 7 p.m.




The Loyal are up north to take on Monterey Bay FC for a crucial three points

Just seven matches remain on the schedule for the Loyal. Five will be on the road, and two will be at Torero Stadium in San Diego. San Diego is currently fighting for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference and will need every point possible to accomplish the feat. With a win, they can clinch a playoff birth for the second straight season.

The Loyal is (16-7-4) on the year with 52 points and a (+16) goal difference. They have the third-most points in all of the USL Championship and rank 7th in goal difference. SD sits in second place in the conference and lead the USL in goals scored with 57.

Monterey Bay Union is having a tough start to their inaugural season. They are (9-14-2) with 29 points on the season and sit in 12th place in the conference. They still have a chance at the playoffs but would need a lot of help to get to the 7-seed.

San Diego is coming off of a loss to the Oakland Roots 3-1 back on Wednesday, August 26.

SD trails San Antonio FC by five points through 27 matches. SAFC has played in only 26, so San Diego could potentially be down eight points if SAFC continues their dominance. That means every match matters for the Loyal. All seven matches that remain are important if the Loyal want to take the No. 1 seed. SD will travel to San Antonio on Sept. 10 for another battle with the top seed in the West.

Why is the No. 1 seed so important? The top seed in each conference will receive a first-round bye as the other six play in the opening round. That would put the Loyal one step closer to their championship aspirations. If the playoffs ended today, SD would host Las Vegas Lights FC, who defeated the Loyal 2-1 in mid-June.

Monterey Bay Union Hosts San Diego Loyal

Credit: Josh Jimenez/EVT

These two squads met last month as the Loyal took down the Union 1-0 at Torero Stadium. Captain Charlie Adams scored the only goal of the match off of a penalty kick in the 59th minute. SD controlled 60% of possession the match and attempted 17 shots to the Union’s seven.

That match didn’t have much action for the Loyal supporters. However, many would remember the endless fouls that the Union committed on the Loyal. Monterey Bay struggled to control the possession, as many teams do when they face SD. That caused frustration, and they committed 20 fouls and three yellow cards. The Loyal only committed six fouls, and even though they couldn’t score multiple goals, they felt like they were the better team all match.

A player to watch in this match is forward Evan Conway. The 24-year-old is playing his best at this point in the season and has scored in six games since July 4. He now has eight goals on the season, which is third on the team behind Kyle Vassell (12) and Thomas Amang (9).

“I think it’s more of a trust thing,” Conway said when asked about starting or coming off the bench. “When you put together a string of good performances, score some goals, and be responsible then you get the nod. I’m just trying to keep my head down and do my work and hopefully it keeps going how it’s been going.”

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Whether Conway starts or comes off of the bench, he finds a way to produce a goal and the one he scored last match was an early one compared to his usual late-match tallies. With Conway finding his groove late in the season, it’s been a huge relief for the team as they needed scoring. Conway, alongside Vassell, Amang, Alejandro Guido, and Tumi Moshobane, creates a dynamic goal-scoring attack.

The Loyal will be looking to score multiple goals this time around as they try and inch closer to the No. 1 seed. There is a lot of soccer left to be played. Finishing strong is all they can think about.

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