Orange County SC plays one of the most pivotal games of its season and a key USL matchup on Saturday. OCSC travels to Arizona to take on Phoenix Rising FC, with both clubs currently sharing second place in the Western Conference. Orange County enters the match undefeated in its previous five matches, including three victories. Phoenix most recently defeated Portland Timbers 2 on the road 4-1.
“Phoenix has been a very good team all season and they are extremely athletic,” said Orange County Soccer Club Head Coach Braeden Cloutier. “We’re now unbeaten in five straight games and in good form. The team is feeling very confident going into this weekend, and we expect an extremely competitive match and playoff-like environment."
The margin between the clubs is slim, as Orange County sits second in the USL in goals scored with 42—two ahead of Phoenix. OCSC also has 10 clean sheets on the year, which is one more than Rising FC. While the clubs have yielded similar results, their styles of play differ. Orange County prefers to possess the ball and make multiple passes to build into their attack. Whereas Rising FC likes to play on the counter.
In the previous two meetings this season, things have been hotly contested. To open the year, the clubs played to a 1-1 draw at Championship Soccer Stadium. Then, Rising FC held on at home in June, winning 1-0 by way of a 13th minute goal by Chris Cortez.
Last weekend, Orange County SC topped Swope Park Rangers by a 2-1 score, thanks to two goals from new signing Darwin Jones. The former Seattle Sounders FC forward’s play garnered USL Team of the Week honors. OCSC’s Aodhan Quinn was named as a reserve on the USL’s TOTW after tallying 72 touches in the Orange County midfield and completing two key passes.