It's been a long time since San Diego Loyal SC played a home match with people in the stands. On Saturday night, for the first time since their inaugural game in March of 2020, they got to play in front of fans at Torero Stadium.
The crowd size was limited. The crowd noise was not.
San Diego used a pair of 2nd half goals to beat Las Vegas Lights FC 2-1 and earn their first win of 2021.
After 45 minutes Vegas had a 1-0 lead. The Loyal gave the number 10, a coveted number in soccer circles because it's traditionally worn by the most dynamic goal scorer on the team, to San Diego native Alejandro Guido.
He made the number and his home town proud. Guido rifled home the equalizer in the 56th minute, a shot that the Loyal absolutely needed to go in. Goals have been hard to find in 2021 despite getting off plenty of shots. On Saturday, San Diego out-shot Las Vegas 21-5.
One more of those shots would get home. In the 87th minute Loyal SC got the ball in the box. Vegas goalie Alex Rando made a series of acrobatic saves but got no help from his defense to clear the ball. Finally, Corey Hertzog sent it to the back of the net, touching off an almost cathartic celebration on the field and in the stands.
The Loyal go back on the road next Saturday against Phoenix Rising FC and head up to Orange County the following Wednesday but after that the schedule gets much more favorable with six out of seven at home.