San Diego gets a goal, but falls to Reno
Group A leaders Reno 1868 visited San Diego for the first time, and Loyal looked to recreate their preseason clash. While there were some positives in the match, Loyal were unable to pull out a much needed win to keep up with the rest of Group B. Things did not start out well for Loyal.
The first half was not a very good one for San Diego. They looked a step behind and Reno took advantage. Reno made sure Loyal keeper Austin Guerrero was busy in his debut. Reno had 21 shots to San Diego’s 3. San Diego has been dealing with a rash of injuries to a lot of their goal scorers. The team's two strikers, Irvin Parra and Ben Spencer, were sidelined for the match, so it was up to Collin Martin, Eric Avila, and Francis Atuahene to get things going in this one.
The one good thing from the first half from San Diego was that they only let in one goal. That happened in the 23rd minute, when Reno’s Tucker Bone cut back against Sal Zizzo and found a wide open Foster Langsdorf who had an easy tap in. Things did not look great for San Diego in the first half, but the half time break seemed to settle Loyal down.
It was San Diego who came out hot in the second half and they looked like they would claw back to even strength. They looked sharp and they put Reno back on their heels as Loyal pressed high and consistently won the ball back in good position on the pitch.
But San Diego’s luck ran out again. Reno got the ball and put a hopeful pass ahead. Emrah Klimenta tried to head it clear, but it was just over his head. It fell to Reno’s Langsdorf who charged on goal. Guerrero made a strong play to come out, but when he went to clear the ball, he lost his footing. The clearance fell straight to Tucker Bone who curled it off the far post and into the goal to put San Diego behind 2-0 yet again.
To Loyal’s credit, they did not give up. They came charging back yet again and they found their first goal in over 300 minutes. Collin Martin was key as he patiently waited until Carlos Alvarez found his space at the top of the 18. Martin, surrounded by 3 Reno defenders, slipped the ball in to Alvarez. Alvarez controlled the ball and it touched off a defender right into his path and he curled it in for Loyal’s first goal since the 2-1 victory against Las Vegas a month ago.
San Diego had several great build up chances and plenty of possession in the second half, but it was Reno that found the last goal. San Diego lost possession and it was Corey Hertzog who played the ball into space for Aidan Apodaca to run onto. Guerrero did a great job to push him wide, but Apodaca managed to get the right angle to put the game to bed in the 85th minute.
On paper, the second half was much better from Loyal, but unfortunately the only stat that matters means San Diego drops points for the fourth game in a room. Even though it has been against the top teams in the West, San Diego can’t be happy they have lost the last three matches.
It is getting harder to see a path way into the playoffs for San Diego at this point in the season. With Orange County getting a win in Los Angeles, Loyal are now 3 points behind 2nd place and OC has three games in hand. Phoenix did drop points to Las Vegas, but they are ahead of San Diego by 9 points. With playoff hopes dwindling, is now the time to experiment with players to see what you have? San Diego has seven games remaining in their schedule so it could be a chance to play with nothing to lose.
But...Loyal’s schedule continues to come fast and heavy as they go to Orange County for the first time to take on the Orange and Black. Four of their last seven are against OC and Phoenix. It might be a moral victory, but getting third in this division this season might feel like a big win after the valley Loyal find themselves in currently. That game will be at 7:00 pm at Championship Soccer Stadium.
24’: Foster Langsdorf (Tucker Bone)
62’: Tucker Bone
66’: Carlos Alvarez
85’: Aidan Apodaca (Corey Hertzog)