Undefeated home streak continues as Loyal moves to 4-1

Photo courtesy SD Loyal and USL Championship Kyle Vassell of the San Diego Loyal drives up field during Sunday’s home match against the El Paso Locomotive

San Diego Loyal SC fought tothe end to hold onto a 3-2 winagainst the visiting El Paso Locomotive FC in front of an excitedcrowd at Torero Stadium on Sunday. With the win, Landon Donovan’s team moved to 4-1 with 12points, its best start in franchise history through five games.
The win was in part thanks toan offense that created a fluid brand of soccer in the first half. It did it with a handful of players meshing to keep the Western Conference rival trying to find ways to stop the attack. Kyle Vassell, Tumi Moshobane and Thomas Amang each found the net for the home side. Earning another three points, SD Loyal remains undefeated at home this season with a 3-0 record.
Vassell, Amang, Moshobane, Nick Moon, Evan Conway, Alejandro Guido (Mater Dei Catholic) and Collin Martin were all big-time playmakers on the offensive side.
Vassell and Moshobane scored in the first half when the Loyal mostly controlled possession and pinned El Paso into its own side of the field. Guido and Moon, the man of the match, helped create the rhythm of the first half attack. It ultimately resulted in Vassell and Moshobane’s goals.
Vassell opened up the scoring in the 21st minute when he buried a shot a few feet from the El Paso goal line. The English striker took a quick cross that Moon flicked into the six-yard box after he sprinted into the penalty box with a pass to himself. He then found a wide open Vassell ready to tap in the ball with the goalkeeper beat, giving the Loyal the 1-0 lead.
Donovan’s squad continued to pressure despite taking the lead. Amang had a chance to score on a run but El Paso goalkeeper Even Newton slid to block the potential goal.
The Locomotive (0-4-0) answered that the Loyal attack with a score by Harry Brockbank in the 26th minute. Brockbank was able to sneak behind the SD Loyal back line to put back a shot by a sliding Lacho Solignac.
Brockbank charged in and sent in the deflection past Koke Vegas, the San Diego goalkeeper, into the roof of the net. The visitor’s goal came at a time in which the Loyal had dominated possession and the match was mostly played on the El Paso side of the pitch with Donovan’s team still pressing on the attack.
The strategy paid off again when the Loyal took a 2-1 lead when Moshobane fired a left-footed blast past Evan Newton. The midfielder was open inside the penalty box and didn’t waste his chance after taking a pass from Conway. It was the South African’s first goal of the season. The scoring play came off a long cross from Amang to Conway, who set the pin-point pass to Moshobane prior to the score.
But the Loyal would not have the same fluidity Donovan would have liked to have in the second half despite taking a 3-1 lead with a goal by Amang in the 64th minute. Amang extended the SD Loyal lead 3-1 when he sent in a low-rolling shot from left to right off the right post. Amang beat Yuma Monsalves near the left sideline and dribbled up field to open space where he looked up and sent in his right-footed shot for his second score of the season.
“You guys heard me say a lot last year when I was happy with a performance whether we win, tie or lose,” Donovan said. “It would be hypocritical to be excited about tonight after the second half. I was disappointed with the last 30 minutes of the game. You can make every excuse, but good teams don’t do that.”
The Loyal had to figure out a way to escape an El Paso surge late in the game after the Texans scored again. Aaron Gomez found the net in the 87th minute to seal the scoring for the day, sending the ball in after a defensive miscue in the six-yard box in a shaky second half.
“In the first half, we had more control of the game.” Donovan said. “They gave us a lot of opportunities to attack. In the second half, we just fell off. It led to a lot of defending. We are not built for that. But there was a lot of good stuff. We should have scored six or seven goals in the first half to be honest.”