San Diego Loyal SC began a short home stand Sunday with a 1-1 draw against Las Vegas Lights FC at Torero Stadium.
The Loyal, though, are tied for third in the conference with Phoenix and Orange County and fighting for what would be their final playoff appearance.
Bunkered for most of the match on their side of the field, Las Vegas defended and waited for opportunities on the counterattack. The strategy eventually paid off against a Loyal team that held possession and constantly pressured up field.
Las Vegas opened up the scoring in the 16th minute with Rios’ goal, which followed a long pass by Las Vegas goalkeeper Leonardo Diaz through the left flank.
The striker was standing wide open near the mouth of the SD Loyal goal when a shot by Tyler Bagley was blocked by Koke Vegas and ricocheted to him. Rios tapped the ball into an open net for the 1-0 lead.
Eleven minutes later, SD Loyal broke through the Las Vegas defense. Adrien Perez tied the match 1-1 off a corner kick taken by team captain Charlie Adams, resulting in his fifth assist of the season.
Perez headed in his eighth goal as he charged in on the set piece and buried it under the crossbar, leaving Diaz without a chance.
“I think it was the perfect delivery from Charlie,” Perez said. “He does that over and over agian, he puts on the sweet spot and I was just able to read it and get good contact on it.”
SD Loyal, coming off a dramatic 3-2 come-from-behind win at Monterey Bay FC, continued to vie for the game-winner, constantly sending up its lines, but Las Vegas held strong defensively.
SD Loyal, with four games left in the regular season, remains at home, welcoming Monterey Bay at 7 p.m. Saturday. After that they have one more home game, on Oct. 7.