Widely known as America’s finest city, San Diego hosted a Second Round Lamar Hunt US Open Cup match between two first-time participants: ALBION San Diego and San Diego Loyal. Supporters from both teams packed Canyon Crest Academy’s stadium, home of the reinvigorated ALBION soccer club who are now participating in the National Independent Soccer Association (NISA, Div. 3 pro).
The night was electric with the Loyal supporters setting the tone and bouncing to the beat of the drums for over 90 minutes.
San Diego Loyal, the USL Championship side led by their head coach, US National Team legend Landon Donovan, scored two dramatic late goals, one in each half to secure a 2-1 win and to punch their ticket to the Third Round of the 107th edition of the US Open Cup.
ALBION put up a fight and made things difficult for the Loyal when they equalized in the 65th minute through Mayele Malango who found himself at the end of a good cross inside the box to make the final 25 minutes enthralling for those in attendance.
The Loyal starting eleven consisted of two homegrown talents in Calvin Jay Fodrey (18) and Xavi Gnaulati (17) who were both signed through their part-time youth development program, Loyal Select. The 18 and 17 year old teenagers each displayed an impressive performance against a stout ALBION team who fought until the very end. A third homegrown player, Davi Santos (17) came on in the 63rd minute to see out the game.
The first goal scored by the Loyal was in the final minute of the first half when Evan Conway ran onto a well-timed through ball by Jack Blake following quick build up play into the ALBION half. Conway ran past his defender and slid to get to the ball first, the goalkeeper got a touch on the ball but it was not enough to keep the ball from rolling into the back of the net.
Following the ALBION equalizer in the 65th minute, the game got really scrappy with both teams battling all over the pitch. The record shows seven fouls called by the officials in the minutes leading up to the game winning goal.
In the 89th minute, Loyal earned a corner kick and it was through this set piece that the USL Championship team scored the game winner when Alejandro Guido placed an in-swinging corner kick with his right foot onto the head of Taylor Crull who rose highest to head the ball into the net.
The final few minutes were full of frustration by the home team and with seven minutes of added time, the battle continued. In the second minute of added time ALBION’s Jacob Haupt was shown a straight red card for violent conduct.
An inspired Loyal team held off the home team in the final minutes and earn their right to continue their journey into the Third Round. They will learn their opponent in Round 3 on Friday at Noon ET.
— San Diego Loyal (@SanDiegoLoyal) April 7, 2022