SAN DIEGO – Jack Blake scored a pair of long-range finishes to lead San Diego Loyal SC to a 2-1 victory against Phoenix Rising FC on Saturday night at Torero Stadium as the hosts handed Rising FC just its second defeat of the 2021 USL Championship season.
Looking to continue a recent four-game undefeated streak, San Diego created the first good chance in the 13th minute as Charlie Adams fired a shot to the bottom-left corner from 25 yards that forced a good save by Phoenix’s Ben Lundt. Phoenix went close on a pair of occasions before the half-hour mark as Jon Bakero sent a header straight at SD Loyal goalkeeper Trey Muse before Aodhan Quinn sent a free kick from more than 30 yards well over the crossbar before San Diego’s Jack Metcalf set up a chance for Miguel Berry that the forward couldn’t direct on target.
The hosts took the lead nine minutes before halftime, however, as Blake found a pocket of space 30 yards from goal to the right of center, and after turning with his first touch to move forward the midfielder fired a long-range shot into the left corner of the net past the diving attempt to save from Lundt.
San Diego carried its lead into the second half, but Phoenix almost answered less than a minute after the break as Ryan Flood’s cross from the right was met at the near post by Rufat Dadashov for a header that was pushed over the crossbar by Muse. In the 57th minute Blake struck again, however, as he began an attack from the right with a pass across field that was picked up by Corey Hertzog. The veteran forward cycled possession back to Miguel Ibarra, who sent it along to Adams before it reached Blake again for a low shot from 30 yards that picked out the bottom-right corner of the net.
Phoenix tried to get back into the game on the hour-mark as Solomon Asante controlled a lifted pass by Aodhan Quinn as he moved into the right side of the penalty area and fired a low shot that was saved by Muse before his defense cleared the rebound. Darnell King also threatened three minutes later with a shot across goal from the right side of the penalty area that was just out of the reach of his teammates, but also slid wide of the left post.
Arturo Rodriguez pulled a goal back for the visitors with 24 minutes to go, though, as after he found David Egbo for a shot inside the penalty area that was blocked, the rebound fell to the 2019 USL League One MVP for a sharp finish into the bottom-right corner of the net. The visitors then pushed for an equalizer as both Quinn and Kevon Lambert saw chances go wide of the right post inside the final 20 minutes, but there would be no late equalizer this time for the visitors as tempers got frayed late on while SD Loyal saw out the win.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Jack Blake, San Diego Loyal SC – Blake added to his personal tally, scoring the third and four goals of his career against Rising FC, to lead the hosts to a key victory in their continued progression up the standings.
SD – Jack Blake (Jack Maher) 36’
SD – Jack Blake (Charlie Adams) 57’
PHX – Arturo Rodriguez 66’