Last night the Loyal picked up their third victory in a row. This time over first place Phoenix Rising. The big win means playoff qualification is still in sight. Last nights match had just about everything. There were plenty of goals, including some questionable disallowed goals, plenty of emotion and an unfortunate red card.
The Perfect Start
The Loyal got out of the gates early as Rubio Rubin scored his first of three on the night in just the third minute. After a cross put in from the left hand side, the quick thinking Jack Metcalf played a fist time ball that gave Rubio time to settle and fire his shot low and hard inside the far post. It was just the start the visiting team needed. Just nine minutes later Rubio added his second as he carried the ball from forty yards out and dribbled right at the Phoenix defense. This was a finish of the highest order as he created his own shot faking right and finishing deftly with his left foot from top of the box. This time between two defenders and the sprawling Phoenix goalkeeper could not get to it in time.
Though the Loyal had the 2-0 lead, there was still a lot of match left to play. Phoenix would pull one back in the 41st minute as Junior Flemmings scored from near the top of the box. It was a quality finish inside Jon Kempin’s far post. Flemmings was afforded time and space to convert an effort he is known for. The first half was end to end action and the Loyal were able to add another before halftime. Again, it was Rubio operating from his right hand side and absolutely skinned two Phoenix defenders. He then cut inside past another defender to his left foot to finish through a crowd after a favorable deflection. Take nothing away from the goal as Rubio was simply too much for the Phoenix defense on this occasion..
This was the first hatrick in the team’s short history and scoring three goals in a match always gives you a good chance of winning. The question would be could the Loyal hold on against one of the league’s most potent offenses. Fresh legs were subbed on after halftime as team of the week players Elijah Martin and Alejandro Guido made way for Tumi Moshobane and Emrah Klimenta.
Holding On For the Win
It was a nail biting finish as Junior Flemmings scored a late goal from a deep cross that Loyal keeper Jake Fenlanson could not quite punch clear. Fenlanson came in to replace the injured Jon Kempin in the 83rd minute and the Loyal will hope Kempin’s injury is not long term. Also, a late red card to Grant Stoneman will see him miss the next match against the LA Galaxy II. Both teams will be up for that game as it could be labeled a must win for each squad. Here is a look at the playoff race.
The Loyal are on a roll at just the right time. Can they clinch a playoff berth in just their first season? A little help from other matches could benefit the cause. And they will need to win their final two matches to be in the conversation. Regardless, the form of late has been red hot. As always the remaining matches will be live in the San Diego area via the CW.