San Diego, CA–Jack Blake was in a celebratory mood on social media this week. His daughter turned one. And he was trying to hype San Diego Loyal SC’s next match: a showdown against a hated a loathed Pacific Division rival.
Blake got to celebrate more in-person Saturday night. He not only hyped the match but gave fans more to be excited about. The Englishman sent in a pair of goals in an SD Loyal 2-1 win against Phoenix Rising on what was deemed “619 night’ to celebrate the club’s second birthday on the date that coincides with San Diego’s telephone area code.
The night coincided with SD Loyal adding more points in the standings with Blake’s pair of goals that came off blasts from outside the 18-yard box. Blake sent in a blast in the 36th minute to open up the scoring and sent 5,800 fans at Torero Stadium at USD into a frenzy. Blake’s first goal came from near the top of the box and he did it again in a similar fashion on the opposite side of the pitch in the 57th for a 2-0 lead. It was his third goal against Phoenix this season. He also found the net in a 2-2 draw at Phoenix June 5, also from outside the box.
“This so special,” Blake said. “The lads and I have been looking forward to this game for so long to be at full capacity and to hear the fans behind us and to get that goal in front of them was so special.”
Saturday, on the first match available for full capacity since the inaugural match March 7, 2020, it was SD Loyal (3-4-2, 11 points) figuring out how to attack Phoenix Rising (5-2-1, 16 points) and keep it on its side of the field. Manager Landon Donovan’s team moved the ball fluidly, taking the space the visitors allowed. Phoenix kept the ball moving, not always giving SD Loyal many chances. It took a pass by Jack Maher to Blake and another one by Charlie Adams to Blake to help create the scoring plays in the Week 10 match.
“Soccer is a funny game. We were much better in Phoenix and probably deserved to win that game,” Donovan said. “Given everything that happened, a point probably would have been fair tonight. We thank the soccer gods. They do look down on you. We’re proud of our guys. It was a different kind of performance. It’s not like us to not have the ball and get pinned on our end.”
Phoenix Rising moved up its lines and eventually found the net when Arturo Gonzalez scored in the 66th minute as Donovan was set on defending its side to try and hold on to its second consecutive win.
It worked. SD Loyal earned three more points to extend their unbeaten streak to five matches and remained unbeaten at home.
“It’s just about character and digging in,” Blake said about holding on. “We can learn from our mistakes. We gave up two late in Phoenix but we just keep getting better. That’s all we can do. The schedule killed us for a little bit with the first seven of eight away but it’s great to pick up points at home and make this place a fortress like we have so far.”
Blake and teammates will now head on the road to face Las Vegas Lights FC June 25 at Cashman Field in Sin City.
SD Loyal 2, Phoenix Rising FC 1
1-0 (36’) Jack Blake (SD)
2-0 (57’) Jack Blake
2-1 (66’) Arturo Rodriguez (PHX)