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THE MORNING TEA – SD Loyal Hitting Big On, Off Field

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 07/14/20, 7:30AM EDT


Legion FC kitted out for national debut; San Antonio’s Smith taking leadership role back in home state

One night off before six consecutive days with USL Championship action starting on Wednesday, here’s your Morning Tea to start Week 4 of the campaign.



You probably read our story over the weekend on the number of potential stadium developments USL President Jake Edwards discussed in conversation with Front Office Sports’ Ian Thomas on Friday lunchtime.

“What we’re seeing now is the beginning of a real watershed moment for USL,” Edwards said. “We are now seeing significant investment in soccer stadiums, generally as part of a mixed-use development in downtown area that can service the community and serve as not just a football stadium but as a destination for retail, for offices, for housing, for bars and entertainment, and of course for football.”

Three days later, and San Diego Loyal SC stepped up to the plate. A proposed modular venue that could host up to 15,000 fans is part of a proposal before the City of San Diego for development at the city’s Sports Arena site in the Midway-Pacific Highway neighborhood.

“Our club cares for the growth of our San Diego community and the new district project provides a great opportunity to transform an underutilized area into a place that celebrates our passion for fun and fitness,” said SD Loyal President Warren Smith.

Monday’s off-field news should only add to the buzz around the first-year club, which is already proving a solid competitor on the field. After the nerves of opening night against Las Vegas Lights FC before a packed house at Torero Stadium, SD Loyal is now on a two-game winning streak thanks to its victory against Real Monarchs SLC on Saturday afternoon. That win came through a nice piece of set-piece work, which the club clued us into on Sunday came as part of a pregame plan set in place by assistant coach Nate Miller.

With a matchup against a below-strength LA Galaxy II side – which will remain without the likes of attacking standouts Kai Koreniuk and Cameron Dunbar at least until the Galaxy concludes its time at the MLS is Back tournament – up next on Saturday, it’s very conceivable that SD Loyal will go four games undefeated to start its first season. With the abbreviated format we’re now facing, that would be very big indeed before tougher tests against the likes of Orange County SC and Phoenix Rising FC arrive.

And if you believe in the power of scoreboard pressure, SD Loyal is turning the screws on Orange County in particular to match its results, and could be setting up a very good race for the playoffs in Group B as a result.





- Birmingham Legion FC will make their national television debut on Wednesday night in special commemorative uniforms that marks a community partnership with the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. The black jerseys with the BCRI’s logo above each player’s name and number will be auctioned off after the game against Memphis 901 FC on ESPN2, with all proceeds going to the Institute.

- Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC Head Coach Alan Koch thought his team had done enough to earn something from its game against New Mexico United on Saturday, but… “Obviously, goals are everything. You can possess the ball, you can create opportunities, but unless you finish them, that's all that matters.”

- El Paso Locomotive FC posted its second consecutive shutout to start the 2020 campaign on Saturday night, but Head Coach Mark Lowry was happiest with the way his side shrugged off some early rust to claim victory against Rio Grande Valley FC. “The energy of the guys, the spirit of the guys, it was phenomenal in the second half,” Lowry told local reporters. “You saw the enthusiasm moving forward. The goal was a classic example. We had four players flying into the box and it falls to Dylan. When you run forward with that enthusiasm, that desire good things happen.”

- On the field on Monday night, the first Black Gold Derby of 2020 ended in a 1-1 draw as FC Tulsa's Rodrigo Da Costa provided the equalizer for the visitors at Taft Stadium after OKC Energy FC's Jaime Chavez had put his side ahead late in the first half.

- The surprise result of the day, meanwhile, came out west as Tacoma Defiance rallied back from a two-goal halftime deficit to take a 3-3 draw with Sacramento Republic FC at Papa Murphy's Park. That result will add pressure to Sacramento's shoulders ahead of Reno 1868 FC's visit on Sunday night, a game which will be aired live on ESPN2.

- San Antonio FC’s Blake Smith returned to his native Texas this offseason, and as the elder statesman on the team is taking on an important leadership role for a squad that includes some high-flying youngsters.

-Memphis 901 FC bolstered its squad with the arrival of defender Rece Buckmaster - most recently of the New York Red Bulls - and forward Cal Jennings ahead of its trip to face Birmingham Legion FC on Wednesday night.

- Make sure to cast your vote for the Championship Fans' Choice Goal of the Week in the next couple of days, as you might recall there were some absolute crackers over the past weekend's action.

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