The San Diego Loyal moved into second place Tuesday amid firsts that proved decisive in the USL Championship team’s 1-0 win against visiting Oakland Roots at Torero Stadium.
Miguel Ibarra struck his first goal of the season minutes after coming on as a second-half Loyal sub in the 72nd minute of the Week 12 match.
“It’s a great feeling getting that goal,” Ibarra said. “What made it more special for me is that my parents came to watch this game. If my job is to come off the bench and help the team however I can, then that’s what I am going to do. It’s 100 percent about the team.”
San Diego is now unbeaten in seven matches, riding a four-game win streak. Loyal (5-4-2, 17 points) is the only team in the division to win four straight. Phoenix Rising, which the local team beat last week, is in first place in the division.
In another first, Austin Guerrero made a diving save to keep the shutout in his initial opportunity as goalkeeper this season. And it was the club’s first shutout of the season.
“This is like a dream come true — my whole family was here,” Guerrero said. “You just grind, and you grind and when the opportunity comes, it’s special.”
He added: “I didn’t have a ton of shots because the team played so well defensively, and I was just happy to be able to do my part.”
Ibarra took a Miguel Berry short pass while facing away from goal, made a half turn and blasted a right-footed shot into the right corner of the net.
Loyal manager Landon Donovan’s team earned three more points in the Pacific Division standings in the first ever meeting between these clubs.
The Loyal started the season 0-4 before going on the seven-game unbeaten streak with Ibarra’s goal that also helped keep the team undefeated at home.
“It was a very good performance, not perfect,” Donovan said about the win. “It’s nice to send everyone home happy.”
Donovan, fans and players were happy along with Ibarra, the goal scorer.
SD Loyal dominated possession throughout the match. Tumi Moshobane and Corey Hertzog had scoring chances early on. Moshobane had a header slapped away by De La Paz at the goal line near left post for a corner kick.
Hertzog sent a shot just wide of the left post off a pass by Moshobane, who kept the ball to the end line before his cross in the 13th minute. Hertzog then sent a left-footed shot from a cross by Collin Martin saved at the line by De La Paz at his line.
Oakland (1-3-2, 5 points) had a chance to tie the match in stoppage time on a shot from former Loyal player Emrah Klimenta, but Guerrero stifled that effort.
The Loyal will host Sacramento Republic for a nationally televised match on ESPN2 Saturday, July 3, at USD’s Torero Stadium.