Thomas Amang has spent most of the offseason coming to train, doing his job, quietly. It was not quiet Saturday night. He helped his new team to their first victory in a home opener.
The 24-year-old forward was the difference maker in San Diego Loyal’s 2-1 win over LA Galaxy II in the 2022 USL Championship season opener in front of a crowd of 5,014 at Torero Stadium. The Cameroon striker was part of two standout games for the home side in a crazy final.
Amang, who came to San Diego via trade, gave SD Loyal a 1-0 lead but was again part of the second game which was officially called an own goal by LA Galaxy II.
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“It was a real crowd of footballers tonight. It was like a real atmosphere like I was in Europe or playing for the Galaxy,” coach Landon Donovan said of the atmosphere to start. the season.” It was a great night. I’m proud of our guys. Over the course of the game, we just exhausted them. In the last game they were just tired and couldn’t react.
On his first goal, Amang, 5ft 9in, weaved between the defenders in an open area of the penalty area where he slid down to tap a throw-in from Tumi Moshobane in the 78th minute.
Amang sent the ball past LA Galaxy II goalkeeper Richard Sanchez and sent the crowd into a frenzy for the first goal of the season.
The crowd erupted again when Jalen Neal sent a ball into his own net, seven minutes after stoppage time. Amang collected a piece of the ball before it was redirected into the net by the Los Dos player.
“When Tumi received the ball, then I knew he would hit me, then I just took a throw-in and he went in,” Amang said. “But it was difficult. We created a lot of chances but we didn’t succeed. Our team was different in the second half and the most important thing was for us to get the three points at the end.
Donovan’s team got all three points instead of one for a tie.
LA Galaxy II tied the game between the Western Conference rivals with an 84th-minute goal from Preston Judd moments after Amang’s opener. The Los Dos striker took a fast ball on a counterattack, beat a pair of defenders and sent a low ball past Loyal goalkeeper Koke Vegas.
The goal calmed the crowd after seeing Loyal play at an upbeat pace and a fluid brand of football for most of the game. Donovan’s team kept possession by creating chances early in the Week 1 game.
Moshobane was one of the first to attack. This attack came when he took a bouncing ball near the heart of the penalty area, turned around and fired a shot. But Sanchez, the LA Galaxy keeper, was well positioned on his line to catch the ball in his midsection to save it.
Loyal got another chance a few minutes later. New striker Kyle Vassell headed a free kick from Charlie Adams just wide of the left post.
Then the home team thought they had scored in the 19th minute. Vassell slipped past the defenders and slid into the box to tap the ball past Sanchez. Nick Moon had sent a sharp low cross to the right while running. The goal was disallowed. Vassell was whistled offside.
Moshobane also came close to scoring for the home side in the 24th minute. The South African charged the LA Galaxy II goal as he attempted to connect a header on another Moon cross from the left. Moshobane couldn’t reach it in time and didn’t have a clean header on the ball, sending it over the crossbar.
Loyal came out with the same intensity in attack in the second half.
Vassell charged from the right side and fired a shot that Sanchez had to jump and block with both hands to send it over the bar. The continued pressure paid off. This resulted in Amang’s goal, one that will go down in the record books as the first for Loyal in his third season.
LA Galaxy, who ended the match with 10 men after Rémi Cabral was dismissed in the 82nd minute, took advantage of the counterattack to level the game. And then came Amang to assist with Loyal’s second goal.
Loyal will host Sacramento Republic FC at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 19 at Torero Stadium for its second game of the season. The first 2,000 fans will receive a limited-edition Loyal Community Scarf for free.
Tickets are available from $15 and can be purchased at (858) 465-BUT or sdloyal.com/tickets.