SD Loyal Clinches Playoff Berth with 3-0 Win against Phoenix Rising FC
SAN DIEGO - San Diego Loyal SC is headed to the playoffs. The club secured its spot in the USL Championship postseason for a second-consecutive year with a 3-0 win against Phoenix Rising FC Saturday night in front of a roaring Torero Stadium.
Evan Conway, Kyle Vassell and Jackson Kasanzu each found the back of the net in a second half filled with fireworks against its rival from the desert. The win breaks a three-match losing streak and adds three more points to SD Loyal's position in the standings. Landon Donovan's team (17W-9L-4D, 55 points) remains in second place behind San Antonio FC, the only other Western Conference team to have secured a playoff spot.
The rowdy and vibrant crowd first erupted when Conway opened the scoring in the 54th minute. The forward headed in a long cross from Tumi Moshobane near the right post, sending it through to give SD Loyal a 1-0 lead. It was Conway's 9th goal of the season.
The Conway score was also all SD Loyal needed to unleash its offense after spending the first half trying to break a scoreless deadlock. In the 64th minute, it was a Phoenix Rising FC (9W-15L-5D, 32 points) defensive mistake that led to SD Loyal's second goal. Vassell gave his team a 2-0 lead when he sent in a ball with his chest. The English striker pressured Phoenix goalkeeper Benjamin Lundt as he tried to catch an Andrew Carleton shot that bounced off the crossbar. The ball slipped out of Lundt's hands and Vassell was there to put away his 13th goal of the season.
The Kasanzu goal came after Alejandro Guido had a penalty kick blocked by Lundt. Kasanzu got a piece of a Jack Blake corner kick with his head and bounced it into the net. The third score of the night was the defender's first as a professional, in his first start with the club. Kasanzu's goal sealed the win and postseason berth for SD Loyal.
Donovan's team will now go back on the road and try to secure a home playoff match when it visits Las Vegas Lights on Saturday Sept. 24 (7 p.m.) in another Western Conference match.
Tickets to SD Loyal's final regular season home match against New Mexico United on Oct. 9 at 3 p.m. are available now at sdloyal.com/tickets.
GOAL SCORING RUNDOWN
SD - Evan Conway (Tumi Moshobane), 54th minute: Conway headed in a deep cross from Moshobane that came from left to right. SD 1, PHX 0
SD - Kyle Vassell, 64th minute: Vassell pressured the goalkeeper and hit a ball into the net with his chest after the goalkeeper lost possession. SD 2, PHX 0
SD - Jackson Kasanzu (Jack Blake), 77th minute: Kasanzu headed in a Blake corner kick to seal the scoring for the night. SD 3, PHX 0
Evan Conway scored his ninth goal of the season and third in his last three appearances.
Kyle Vassell scored his team-leading 13th goal of the season.
Jackson Kasanzu scored his first goal of the season, his first as a professional soccer player.
Tumi Moshobane recorded his seventh assist of the season.
Jack Blake recorded his fourth assist of the season.
Evan Conway has now scored the opening goal in four matches this season.
SD Loyal have scored in 26 of its 30 games, more frequently than any other team in the USL Championship this season.
-SAN DIEGO LOYAL SC MATCH REPORT-
Match: San Diego Loyal SC vs. Phoenix Rising FC
Date: Sept. 17, 2022
Competition: USL Championship
Venue: Torero Stadium; San Diego, Calif.
Kickoff: 7 p.m. PT
Weather: 68 degrees, mostly cloudy
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