San Diego try to measure up, but come up short.
San Diego Loyal traveled to take on Phoenix Rising. The temperature isn’t the only thing that is hot in Phoenix, as Rising is coming off a 5-2 thrashing of New Mexico United. Loyal, on just a couple days rest, looked to hold their own against one of the best teams in the entire league.
San Diego looked to get as many players behind the ball as possible and grind out a low scoring game. Rising looked very happy to play that way as well. Rising used their front two lines of three to keep the pressure up and forced Loyal into turnovers early.
For a lot of the early match, it looked of them and they took advantage of it. Francis Atuahene drove at the back line and looked to have two options. He could play Tumi Moshobane in or he could test Rising keeper Zac Lubin. He elected to shoot and put a good shot on frame, but Lubin got the better of him.
It was in the 26th minute that finally saw a break through, and unfortunately it was Rising who found the back of the net. Much like the goal in the first match against Las Vegas, it took an absolute stunner of a goal to put San Diego behind. This time it was Junior Flemmings who took the shot. He found just enough space in front of Emrah Klimenta and hit what will surely be a goal of the week candidate.
It was right after the hydration break, in the 36th minute, when it looked like San Diego had fought their way back to level. On a corner kick Loyal scored, but Carlos Alvarez was called for obstructing Rising keeper Lubin and the goal was waved off the board. Loyal had to be content to go into the half only down one goal and still very much in the game.
After half time, it was more of the same. Loyal was just forced to defend. Loyal had some good play, but again shut out from getting any good looks on goal. Rising played a little slower, but still took their chances. It was in the 59th minute that saw Rising add to their lead. After scramble the ball rolled slowly out to Rising’s Darnell King who’s shot was deflected on the way in and skipped under Jake Fenlason to put Rising up 2-0.
All was not terrible for Loyal as they did have a couple of chances. In the 73rdminute Carlos Alvarez found himself on the end of a good cross in but Zac Lubin was able to use every inch of his reach to keep it out of the net. It could have been worse, if not for a diving goalie clearance from Grant Stoneman followed by a sensational save from Fenlason in the 80th minute.
Unfortunately, San Diego fell to Phoenix and dropped further behind in the West. Loyal sit 3rd, but Orange County has 3 games in hand and Los Angeles has four. This will go down as a tough learning experience for a young team. Loyal are competitive, but clearly a step behind the top teams in the West at this point.
Coach Landon Donovan and Nate Miller have some work to do this week as another top Western Conference team in Reno 1868 come to town next Saturday. They will play in Torero Stadium at 7:00 pm.
26’: Junior Flemmings (Jon Bakero)
59’: Darnell King