USL Championship socce r Torero Stadium
Teammates, including newcomer Joe Corona, left, rush toward Jackson Simba, center, who scored the only goal in San Diego Loyal’s season-opening win. Photo credit:

San Diego Loyal SC began the USL Championship season with a 1-0 win against visiting Detroit City FC in their opener.

A sold-out crowd of 5,671 at Torero Stadium Saturday witnessed the Loyal earn its first three points of the season thanks in part to defender Jackson Simba.

Simba, 19, sent in the first goal of the season and the first under new coach Nate Miller, taking a deflection to send a floating ball past Detroit goalkeeper Nate Steinwascher for a 1-0 lead in the 42nd minute.

Simba, who was added to the roster late last season, sent in his attempt from near the penalty box after a Detroit defender got a piece of a pass by fellow Loyal defender Kyle Adams. It was Simba’s second career goal with San Diego.

SD Loyal (1-0, 3 points), returned 15 players from 2022 and added hometown favorite Joe Corona, a Sweetwater High grad, along with Blake Bodily, Adrien Perez and Elliot Collier.

The team began to use open space to push its lines up field with quick plays, using its speed on the flanks. Detroit, new to the USL last season, also moved quickly and created a pair of dangerous plays that resulted in a diving save by Loyal goalkeeper Koke Vegas in the 53rd minute of the first-ever match between the clubs.

Detroit City (0-1, 0 points) nearly scored when Rhys Williams sent a ball across the six-yard box, catching Vegas at the near post, but there was no one to send in the ball on the other end. 

SD Loyal held on to secure its first win under Miller, who took over when Landon Donovan stepped aside to focus on his duties as executive vice president of soccer operations.

The team has another home match at 3 p.m. March 19, hosting Western Conference rival Phoenix Rising FC.