Irvine, Calif. (August 25, 2017) Following the late heroics in last week’s contest against Phoenix Rising FC, Orange County SC returned to the OC Great Park Championship Field to play Oklahoma City Energy FC. Orange County earned a vital and late point in the match against Phoenix through the head of Sola Abolaji. That was Abolaji’s debut appearance this season and his first goal for OCSC. Phoenix Rising scored the first goal in the first half when Chris Cortez pressured goal keeper Charlie Lyon into a mistake. The visitors looked poised for a second soon after but could not break through. For the majority of the second half Orange County SC played with a man advantage after AJ Gray was dismissed with a straight red card at the end of the first half.
OCSC again failed to net the game’s first goal. A reoccurring trend that could prove cancerous as the end of the season draws near and teams are jockeying for playoff positions. Tonight’s match was important for both teams’ playoff aspirations as OKC Energy FC held the eighth and final playoff spot and sat just one point ahead of Orange County SC. Now with the loss tonight, OCSC fall four points behind in the standings.
The first half performance was lackluster from both sides and opportunities were few and far between. Although Orange County SC controlled a fair share of possession, most of the passes were not in the offensive third and didn’t threaten the OKC Energy backline or keeper Cody Laurendi’s goal. Necessary to breaking down an organized defence are decisive passes forward. Orange County SC were content in keeping possession and moving the ball from side to side. Possession and movement are important aspects of the game, but to score goals risks must be taken.
The first goal was scored by OKC’s Alex Dixon in the 35th minute. This was the first clear opportunity for either team and the midfielder made no mistake in the finish finding the far post. Dixon made a darting run across the 18 yard box from his left side to the right. He took the first touch around the sliding defender and only needed one more to finish the chance. The goal sparked OCSC to life momentarily and their best chance of the first half came off a corner kick. Wuilito Fernandes elevated well to connect on the header. The effort was goal bound and beat the keeper but the defender on the back post made the clearance off the goal line.
After ending the first half positively, the start of the second half did not begin the same way for Orange County SC. Less than 10 minutes into the start of the second half OKC Energy doubled their lead through an own goal. Off a throw-in deep in the OCSC corner Miguel Gonzalez found himself behind the OCSC defence. His dangerous service was whipped low and hard across the face of the goal and unfortunately ricocheted off Joe Franco into the back of the net. Orange
County SC would pull a goal back in the 70th minute. Jerry Van Ewijk and Wuilito Fernandes combined beautifully to send Van Ewijk through 1-v-1 with the keeper. It was encouraging to see the two link up for the opportunity. The home side would proceed to push late for the equalizer. Sola Abolaji came on again as a late substitute and nearly found the goal on some headed opportunities. However, the best chance fell to Carlos Alvarez in the 90th minute. He found himself in some space at the top of the box, but couldn’t keep his curled shot down on frame.
The next match for Orange County SC is set for 7pm Sept 2, at the OC Great Park against 1868 Reno FC. The two teams met in the first game of the season. Orange County SC held Reno goalless and won 2-0. Now a more challenging task as Reno has one of the best offences in the USL.
ABOUT ORANGE COUNTY SOCCER CLUB:
The Orange County Soccer Club is Orange County’s Professional Soccer Team. The club was one of 12 founding members of the new United Soccer League (USL) in its inaugural 2011 season. The predecessor club Orange County Blues were the 2015 Western Conference Regular Season Champions and have reached the Western Conference Semi-finals of the USL Playoffs in back-to-back seasons. The club’s brand-new owner, James Keston, is the Chief Investment Officer of LARO Properties, and will actively oversee all operations of the USL club in Orange County. Keston is dedicated to transforming the club into a world-class professional soccer organization that focuses on the fans, players, and youth clubs of Orange County.
For more information about Orange County Soccer Club or to purchase tickets, visit: http://www.orangecountysoccer.com.
Contact: Kelly Salmieri: VP, Marketing & Community Relations, email@example.com, 805.844.0856