By SDCN Staff
San Diego, CA–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 Sept. 24 at 7 p.m. in another Western Conference match.