San Diego is scorching hot at home, will be even hotter in Vegas.
As noted before last week, the supporters had work to do to help San Diego Loyal beat Phoenix Rising for the first time in 2021. These two teams played a very hard fought, and sometimes physical match. San Diego had come in to the match on a four game unbeaten run, winning both home matches prior.
The home side got exactly what they were cheating for the whole match. It was quite a team effort. The back line looked solid with both Elijah Martin and Josh Yaro playing very well on the Loyal’s left hand side. Jack Metcalf and Jack Maher did the job on the right very well too. The fact that Phoenix stars Santi Moar and Solomon Asante registered just one shot on target between them showed that they kept the Phoenix big guns silent.
Defensive standout Josh Yaro spoke during midweek practice. “Defending is a team effort. Everyone on the team has put in a ton of work to make sure defensively we are good.” Speaking specifically on the relationship he has built up with Elijah Martin, he said “I have a good relationship with everyone on the team…we understand each other’s positioning and each other’s strengths. We compliment each other well.”
The big star of the match was Jack Blake for San Diego. His brace, two screamers, were the difference in this match, as Phoenix looked to take Miguel Berry out of the match. Having those secondary scorers will be huge this season as more and more teams will look to take the big man out of the match.
What Blake was able to do was find the space left open by Phoenix targeting Berry. Jack Metcalf also pulled some defender’s attention and Blake took advantage. Both goals also showed Blake’s ability to score from outside the box.
Jack Blake said it was “so special” scoring in front of the home fans. He continued, “the lads, me included have been looking forward to this game for so long…to hear the fans behind us, and to get that goal in front of them is special. One I will remember for the rest of my career.”
The other star was Trey Muse again. His six saves were another reason why Phoenix couldn’t get a point out of the match. Phoenix probably deserved something out of the match, but that is the beauty and heartbreak that is soccer. San Diego fans had to feel hard done with the draw in Phoenix, and this time it was Phoenix fans that had that feeling leaving Torero stadium or turning off their televisions.
Landon Donovan summed it up. “Soccer’s a funny game. We were a lot better in Phoenix and probably deserved to win that game. Given everything that happened, probably a point would have been fair tonight. Sometimes the soccer gods do look down on you. They didn’t a few weeks ago in Phoenix. They did tonight. Proud of our guys.”
The next game will be on the road against Las Vegas Lights at Cashman Field. The dimensions are a little different than what Loyal is used to playing on. Nate Miller mentioned that the field changes where the space on the field is, specifically the space behind the back line. He said “it matches well for us…we can give teams less space behind. You can find space on switches and in between lines. When you play there before, it helps.” They also have another thing to contend with and that is the temperature. Look for Loyal to value the ball and use possession to wear the other team out.
The team has a short turnaround against Oakland Roots. This will be a tough match because there is less time to prepare. Nate Miller gave some pointers to look for saying “the game is much more about us. We are going to try and implement our game. We want to try our very best to impose our will on the game. We expect them to play on the counter attack…games like that (not having a lot of game film on a new team like Oakland) are just about us.”