Frustrating, but some positives in loss
San Diego starts well, but come up short in first match up against Orange County
San Diego Loyal welcomed their neighbors from Orange County Soccer Club to Torero Stadium for the first time in team history. There are a lot of connections between OCSC and the city of San Diego including Aodhan Quinn who grew up in San Diego who is the son of USD coach and Sockers player Brian Quinn. OC Coach Braeden Cloutier also had a stop in San Diego when he played with the Sockers as well. Loyal was hoping to give them an unwelcome return to a place they saw a lot of success.
In the first couple of minutes, it looked like it was San Diego who hadn’t played a game in several weeks. There was a communication break down that allowed Orange County’s Seth Casiple to find himself free and in on goal. Newly married Loyal keeper Jake Fenlason came out to challenge Casiple and it put him off just enough forcing his shot to hit the post.
Orange County might have been the better team early, but it was San Diego that was on the front foot from the 14th minute on. Jack Metcalf, Charlie Adams, and Elijah Martin put in great cross after great cross. They created several opportunities to put one by OC keeper Fredrik Due, but he was up to the task.
The star of the first half had to be Collin Martin. He was playing much higher on the pitch than usual and was very much involved in a lot of the great build up play. Martin was almost always in the right spot playing his teammates in or around Orange County defenders. Tumi Moshobane was on the end of a lot of those great plays, but he was unable to take advantage of the build up. San Diego had to settle for a scoreless draw going into halftime
The second half started very similarly to the first. Collin Martin continued to find himself in great positions. In the 51st minute, Martin had the ball played to him by Moshobane and he turned his defender Michael Orozco. He cut back on to his left foot, but Due got just enough of it to tip it wide. San Diego kept getting corner kick after corner kick, but nothing came of those either. It really felt like a goal was coming for San Diego, but it never materialized.
Instead, it was Orange County that found the back of the net first. On a quick counter, Sean Okoli found himself in and he was able to slot it by Fenlason as several Loyal defenders came giving in. Orange County led 1-0.
Orange County did find some life, but it was San Diego that kept regaining control. They just couldn’t manage to break through. In the 84th minute, OC put the game to bed on an amazing strike from Aodhan Quinn. There was a good pass back to him just outside the 18 yard box and he put his left foot through it and into the back of the net.
San Diego kept fighting till the end, but lackluster strikes and a couple of key saves from Due, OC kept their third clean sheet in their four matches. This was a disappointing loss for San Diego, but only with the lack of finishing. There was a lot to walk away happy with. The tweak in formation created a lot of good build up play, and Loyal players looked like they were getting more and more comfortable with each other. They will need to find their scoring boots, and soon, because it doesn’t get easier from here.
Coach Landon Donovan put it this way, “I've been in that spot where you go through a stretch when you're not scoring and it's easy for everyone to say ‘we'll just score more goals.’ I don't worry about the goals. The goals will come. I worry about the chances. Last weekend against Sacramento we didn't have a lot of chances. Tonight, we had, I think, 22 shots and probably seven, eight chances. Now it just got to mean something to you to hit the net and score and that's the last part we need. We need our guys to recover quickly and really focus on that piece of the game.”
San Diego plays again on Saturday against another tough opponent when they travel to Phoenix to take on Phoenix Rising. Another huge 3 points are on the line, and if San Diego hopes to make it to the playoffs, this next game is going to be big.
65’: Sean Okoli
84’:Aodhan Quinn (Edson Alvarado)