Memphis 901 FC get clean sheet win over San Diego Loyal SC to end road trip
A penalty given inside the first ten minutes of play could have spelled disaster for Memphis 901 FC, especially facing a lethal San Diego attack in a hostile environment. Instead, the well struck penalty was saved which kick-started a gem of a game from Drew Romig.
Rodrigo da Costa scored minutes later and Memphis was able to hold on for a 1-0 victory, ending their road trip on a high note. In those four games, the club went 2-1-1 which is easily their best stretch of play since they took the league by storm months ago.
On paper, Memphis 901 FC and San Diego Loyal are similar playoff-caliber teams, leaning on offensive production to overpower teams while being prone to conceding in the process. The two teams came into the match having the same expected goals per match rate (1.77) and now both reside in fourth place in their respective conferences afterward.
Aiden McFadden started in his first game available for 901 FC, joining the club Monday on loan from Atlanta United. McFadden made 12 appearances in the MLS Next Pro league this season which is on the same level as USL League One in the U.S. soccer pyramid. Playing as a right back, the late-season addition was impressive – making an impact defensively with timely tackles and blocks while distributing when needed.
First Half Flurry
It took a couple minutes for everyone to settle into the match but a spark in the form of a penalty started an action-packed half with chances from both teams. Adrien Perez drew the foul against Akeem Ward, the two getting tangled up in isolation inside the box. Joe Corona’s shot heading into the bottom right corner was saved by Romig, ending Corona’s perfect 3/3 penalty record this year.
San Diego held the momentum for a short time after the miss, but the next big chances came from Memphis. Luiz Fernando whipped in a cross in the 15th minute that deflected off a defender and almost found the back of the net. Dylan Borczak had a solid run behind the defense that forced the goalkeeper to come out and sweep away any danger.
It took a bit of ambition and confidence to get on the scoreboard as Graham Smith was allowed acres of space outside of the box. He took advantage and launched a shot that tested the Loyal goalkeeper, causing a deflection. Da Costa was in prime position and scored off the rebound, collecting his ninth goal of the season.
Memphis is the first team to reach 40 goals in the Eastern conference, behind only San Antonio league-wide with 47!
San Diego responded with several efforts of their own but Romig was up to the challenge each time, whether it was from a free kick or transitional play.
This might have been Memphis’ best defensive performance for a full 90 minutes and it was especially noticeable in the second half. 901 FC had only one yellow card for the half and limited San Diego’s attack without having the luxury of possession. At the end of a fairly long road trip, we could have seen mind’s wander and mistakes start to pile up but the back line stayed alert and composed throughout.
There was a golden opportunity in the 73rd minute for San Diego to equalize from a pacey cross inside the box but the ball narrowly missed its target, rolling harmlessly out of bounds.
With 11 games left, Memphis will return home to AutoZone Park Wednesday, August 23 at 7pm CT against Indy Eleven. It will be a rematch of last weekend’s game with Indy seeking redemption from a 2-1 loss.
Photo Credit: D’Angelo Connell Photography
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