Two tough trips. Two Draws. Two more points on the board.
The week that followed San Diego Loyal’s first win on the season was a tough one. They extended their early road journey, returning to Chandler to take on Phoenix Rising and then a quick turn around to visit Orange County Soccer club for the first time this season. The team was hoping that the 2-1 victory against Las Vegas would spur them to better play and better results.
This looked to be the case, as the newly returned Miguel Berry looked as good as he did in his substitute appearance against The Lights. His strength and presence on the ball was what San Diego had been lacking early in the season.
It was also a good step up for the defensive side of things for San Diego as well. They kept one of the most powerful offenses in the USL scoreless, and without a shot on target, for almost the entire match. Obviously, this did not last the entire match, but it was a huge step forward for a team that had one of the worst expected goals against average in the league.
The other bright spot was Jack Blake, as he took a beautiful pass from Collin Martin and created his own space and shot to put San Diego up 2-0 in the 71st minute. San Diego fans did have to have some deja vu as this is what happened the second time San Diego played Phoenix last year. The first game was a one sided affair and the second game Loyal started strong and Phoenix fought back. The only difference this year was Loyal only got two and thus had to settle for a draw.
Unfortunately, Loyal and the supporters probably felt hard done and wanted 3 big road points. But, San Diego fans can use this as a benchmark to show how much they have improved as a team and can find solace in that news. Jack Blake spoke on Wednesday about that match, saying that “it was a tough game. We showed a lot more than in the first game so we are pleased about that. Difficult not to get a win.”
They quickly had to turn it around and get themselves up for their in-state foes in Orange County. Orange County has had their up and downs early in the season as well, but they were coming off a win at the weekend against Sacramento.
San Diego came out fast again scoring in the 14th minute when Jack Blake found Tumi Moshobane in the box and he headed it in beautifully. Blake and Tumi both spoke about the traveling fans and how big it was. Blake said, “It was really nice to have people behind us. We’ve had a lot of away games…it was fantastic, definitely gives us that extra 1 percent.” Tumi Moshobane, scoring his first goal was quick to point out “it was a team effort.” Speaking of those fans, he said “they were our 12th man…and they gave us the boost to keep going."
Unlike Phoenix, San Diego was probably lucky to get out of Orange County with a point. That came down to Trey Muse, who leads the league in saves, coming up huge at the end of the game to keep Loyal level.
There was another look from San Diego as Thomas Vancaeyeezele started, but instead of his normal spot in the back line, but as more of a holding midfielder in place of Charlie Adams. The USL Tactics twitter account did a great job breaking down the positives and negatives of his game in that spot. Keep an eye on his development in this position as the season progresses.
Landon Donovan spoke after the Orange County match, and found a lot of positives in the past two matches. Asked how he felt after these two draws, Donovan said “Good. These are two hard places to play. Just like week against Phoenix, we came here and dominated the game for long stretches. Of course you want to win, but anytime you get points on the road back to back against really good teams, you can live with it.” Donovan also praised the traveling fans and what it meant for his team. “Awesome”, he said “really glad that we have supporters that loyal and that excited to come see the team.”
There is little rest for the team, as they finally return home to the on Los Angeles Galaxy 2. Los Dos was the team that kept San Diego out of the playoffs last year, had Loyal not walked off the pitch. This will be another opportunity to protect their home field, which they will need to do if they want to be a playoff team this year. Los Dos will be coming in the more rested team, as they haven’t played since the 4-3 road win against Orange County on May 29th. They were to play Charleston on June 4th, but their game was postponed due to weather. Kick off is at 7:30 pm at Torero Stadium.