TACOMA, Wash. – San Diego Loyal SC got a pair of goals by Francis Atuahene as it earned its first victory in the USL Championship with a 2-1 win on the road against Tacoma Defiance on Wednesday night at Cheney Stadium. Atuahene scored the winner with five minutes to go, lifting Head Coach Landon Donovan’s side after Tacoma had leveled early in the second half.
The teams exchanged half-chances in the opening half-hour, including an early chance that Azriel Gonzalez headed over for the Defiance from close range. San Diego took the lead in the 31st minute, however, when Atuahene got on the end of a well-delivered free kick by Collin Martin from the right and volleyed home.
Tacoma hit back 11 minutes into the second half when Taylor Mueller’s lifted pass played Shandon Hopeau into space down the right side, and his low cross was turned home by Justin Dhillon to equalize. Hopeau then threatened himself with a low finish at the back post off Danny Reynolds’ cross from the left that was turned wide by SD Loyal goalkeeper Jon Kempin.
San Diego looked to retake the lead in the final half-hour and both Atuahene and Tumi Moshobane tested Tacoma goalkeeper Trey Muse. Atuahene almost put the visitors ahead again with 11 minutes to go when his shot from the right side of the penalty area was cleared off the line by Tacoma’s Antonee Burke-Gilroy.
With five minutes to go, however, SD Loyal struck for what proved to be the winner as Qudus Lawal held up play near midfield allowing Elijah Martin to release Jack Metcalf on the right side. A low delivery from Metcalf was met by Atuahene with a first-time finish that left Muse little chance from the top of the six-yard area.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Francis Atuahene, San Diego Loyal SC – Atuahene scored in either half, finished with four shots on goal and completed 14 of 19 passes to lead SD Loyal to its first league victory in club history.