San Diego on a high welcomes a familiar foe
San Diego Loyal are unbeaten in four matches, including two dramatic come from behind wins at home. This next match will feature one of the best teams in the league as Loyal take on Phoenix Rising at home. This will be the first time Phoenix has returned to San Diego since the famous match where Loyal walked off in protest. This will also be the first time Phoenix and Loyal will play an official match at Torero stadium.
Loyal are coming off of a huge win against Los Angeles Galaxy 2. Two late goals from Alejandro Guido and Miguel Berry, both in front of the home supporters group, were the difference in that match. Guido’s performance in this match earned him team of the week, player of the week, and goal of the week honors from the USL Championship. The last of those was a fan vote, where he won overwhelmingly.
Miguel Berry spoke about what it meant being at home and playing in front of home fans. Speaking about getting the winning goal, he said “I’ve done it a few times here, obviously this is different, the fans are unbelievable, the whole night. We know they would be. It’s so special. I’ve played in here in front of a lot fewer people in my college days. It’s nice to see this place rocking. I can’t wait for next week. It’s going unbelievable.”
Player of the week Alejandro Guido also spoke highly of the fans and their ability to push the team. “The fans,” he said “they change the game.” He also talked about how the team is gaining experience and has learned to not give up. When asked about going behind to Los Dos, he said “It’s really frustrating. I think the first couple of games that’s happened to us, when we are the better team. But, unfortunately we go down, but with the experience of the last games, we learned how to push these games and be able to come up the results.”
This is going to be an important lesson to tap into this week against Phoenix. Rising rarely gets shut out. A feat only a handful of teams can boast in the last three regular seasons. The possibility of getting a clean sheet is there, but as Loyal learned the last match, it's going to take a complete game with no mistakes.
Coach Nate Miller spoke at practice about what this full week has allowed the team to do compared to last week. During short weeks are “very different…it’s all about recovering…when you have so many games, it’s a lot of film work. This week is a lot different because we know Phoenix well.” He goes on to say, “fans probably don’t understand what toll travel does to a team and how hard it is to recover. We were very happy with the performances of the players, but how we rotated the squad.”
He also talked about the beginning of the season. He mentioned the slow start and how much that effected the players. “No one suffered more than us. If you look back at that run of games and how hard it was to start off that way, it made us better. I know people were frustrated…I know we are going to get hot in July and August…it takes time to build what we want to do.” He also wanted fans to know that “We have a lot of work ahead of us and we are only a quarter of the way through the season. Every week people need to know that these guys are killing themselves to win on the weekend.”
This week is also a huge week, as Torero stadium will be open to full capacity. The players, every week, have mentioned how loud the crowd is and Nate Miller also commented on that. “I cannot tell you how excited the players and staff are, honestly. I will say, credit to our supporters. 33 percent was an amazing experience. I honestly think, supporters impact results more than they think. How those games finish (the last two home matches) I think that’s how home field makes big a difference. With everyone there, our players handle it well, but that the supporters provide not just an atmosphere, but a competitive edge of us. Second halves especially make a big difference for us.”
So the coaching staff, the players, and you, the supporters, all have an important role to play in the success of Loyal. So keep working, keep practicing, and keep supporting seems to be the message.