San Diego Loyal SC clinched second place in the Western Conference thanks to a 2-2 draw against Orange County SC Saturday at Championship Soccer Stadium in Irvine.
SD Loyal earned another point in the standings in the Week 30 USL Championship match, due to the efforts of Thomas Amang and Jack Blake.
The team had already ensured that San Diego would see a home playoff match, but clinching second place was also important to the squad.
“The goal four or five weeks ago was to finish second, at a minimum,” coach Landon Donovan said. “Now that’s secured.”
SD Loyal (18-9-5, 62 points) opened up the scoring with Amang’s 10th goal of the season. The Cameroonian striker fired a right-footed shot past Orange County goalkeeper Patrick Rakovsky off a Blake pass between a pair of defenders.
The lead lasted until Orange County (7-13-12, 33 points) striker Milan Iloski found the net in the 44th minute. The USL Championship golden boot leader sent a right-footed volley into the lower corner of the net, beating Loyal goalkeeper Koke Vegas to tie up the match.
The deadlock lasted less than 10 minutes. Blake smashed a free kick opportunity into the net in the 53rd minute for his third goal of the season to give SD Loyal a 2-1 lead. It was Blake’s second free kick conversion of the season, coming from 20 yards out.
Orange County, eliminated from playoff contention, pushed forward in the final minutes and found the equalizer with a goal by Milan’s brother, Brian Iloski, in the 90th minute.
SD Loyal returns to Torero Stadium to prepare for its final home match of the regular season, also Fan Appreciation Day, at 7 p.m. Oct. 9 against Western Conference rival New Mexico United (11-9-11, 44 points).
Tickets to Fan Appreciation Day as well as SD Loyal’s first-ever home playoff match – set for the weekend of Oct. 21-23 – remain available.