San Diego Loyal are undefeated!!
Updated: Feb 3
On an absolute beautiful day, the San Diego Loyal took to the pitch for the first time ever against FC Dallas. This was supposed to be a closed door friendly, but season ticket members, family, and a few guests were invited to attend. The several hundred supporters who stood against fences just above and outside the pitch were excited to see the team officially kick off.
Now, the team has made it very clear that not all of the players on the pitch are officially signed, so if they have not been announced yet they are only officially part of the training camp roster. In fact, unlike Liga MX games where you see outrageous numbers like 315, there were several players that played in the second half that had no numbers at all. More on this later.
As the team kicked off, most of the crowd behind the goal immediately started to try and figure out who was on the pitch and where they were playing. It took us a little while, but we came to the conclusion that the team was set up in a 3-5-2. Amal Knight started in the goal and was mostly untested. He was an imposing figure and looks like he’d stop anything shot anywhere near the goal.
The back line, consisting of Elijah Martin on the left, Joe Greenspan in the center, and Sal Zizzo on the right. They played well and kept Dallas away from the goal with some great play and several strong clearances. Speaking to Greenspan after the game he mentioned how much the coaching staff demands of the players. After playing under Bob Lilly last year in Pittsburgh, he is glad to be playing in the beautiful San Diego weather.
The midfield was the hardest to break down what was happening, but after a while it was clear that Charlie Adams was playing a more defensive midfielder role, but had the freedom to move forward. The rest of the midfield featured Eric Avila on the right, Charlie Adams and Tumi Moshobane in the middle, and Jerome Ngom on the left. Ngom and Moshobane had some great link up play and looked very dangerous.
Up top was Ashley Nazira, who looked dangerous, and Irvin Parra who surprised the supporters with a bicycle kick that went right over the crossbar. The first half team was on the ball a lot and looked very dangerous going forward and forced a couple of saves. It was an exciting start to the season, although it wasn’t until the second half that SD Loyal got their first goal in their history.
The second half started with a complete team turn over. Unnumbered keeper Austin Guerrero was brought on, and looked good, although not really tested at all. The team stuck with a 3-5-2 in the second half too. They had Akeem Ward, Edwin Lara, and Jordan Chavez on the back line. It was hard to tell, because they had no numbers, so that was our guess. The rest of the team was Beverly Makangila, Carlos Alvarez, Morgan Hackworth, Yair Jaen, and Suleiman Samura. Up top was Qudus Lawal and Francis Atuahene. It was Atuahene who broke the scoreless draw with SD Loyal’s first and only goal of the match. He took a beautiful touch to beat his defender, and then put a really nice shot to the right to beat the Dallas keeper. He jumped for joy and the supporters cheered for a great strike, which would be the only goal of the match. Shout out to The Locals for the video below:
The second half was a little more back and forth from the two teams, but nether side really challenged the other teams goal, but when the final whistle blew, it was the SD Loyal and their supporters who celebrated the first win and the exciting play on the pitch.
While this was just a preseason friendly, there were a lot of positives to take from the match. First, there was quite a crowd out for a preseason friendly on Super Bowl Sunday. Second, SD Loyal played a very fun and engaging brand of soccer. There is a lot of attacking talent on the pitch and they played well with one another. Lots of good passing link up play, and even some good long balls that Parra was able to hold up and play off to other teammates. Third, the back line looked solid. They looked like they could defend well both with their feet and in the air.
There is a lot to be excited about, and if you haven’t yet gotten season tickets, it’s not too late to get in on the fun. There will be a lot to cheer for this season, and the players will definitely appreciate and hear the cheering and the singing from the stands.
The next opportunity to check out the SD Loyal on the pitch is February 8th at Cal State Fullerton. The rest of the preseason features a match at USD Torero Stadium on February 22nd and February 29th away against USL Championship side Reno 1868 FC.