The winning streak couldn't last forever, as Orange County Blues FC lost their first game since the season opener, falling 2-1 to the Seattle Sounders FC 2 at Starfire Stadium in Washington on Friday. Despite taking a lead in the game, OC conceded a second-half equalizer before a late penalty scored by Pablo Rossi doomed the Blues to their second loss of 2015.
Despite the result, the Blues can take solace from a couple of factors in S2's comeback. First, the tying goal scored by Sam Garza bounced off the crossbar and landed somewhere near the goal line. The officials disputed whether or not it was a goal, but it was ultimately ruled as such. To be fair, the camera angles on the YouTube feed were inconclusive, at least to my eyes, since the ball slammed down to earth at such a high speed.
Second, while giving up a penalty for the game-winner is never an ideal scenario, that the game was decided by the spot kick indicated how evenly matched the teams were overall. This was definitely a literal game of inches, and Orange County were on the wrong side of that.
Sounders 2 were savvy in essentially trying to beat the Blues at their own game. They tried to hold onto the ball and pressed the Blues hard when the visitors had the ball. While the first half was pretty open, with both teams getting good looks, the Blues appeared to grow more frustrated with their inability to build chances after the restart.
The Blues opened the scoring in the 22nd minute, as Denzel Slager tried to beat S2 defender Andres Correa on the dribble, doing a stepover, then sending a deflected cross into the box. Blues striker Christofer Ramirez adjusted to the deflected flight of the ball, but was able to head it past Sounders 2 goalkeeper Charlie Lyon with relative ease.
Blues goalkeeper Pepe Miranda made a massive stop to preserve the lead in the 31st minute, as Darwin Jones' one-v-one jailbreak chance was blocked by the Cuban.
Garza's goal came in the 66th minute, as the rebound off a free kick came out to him near the top of the box, and he may or may not have buried it. In the end, it doesn't matter, since it was counted by the referee.
S2's comeback was complete when Brenton Griffiths brought down substitute Oalex Anderson in the 83rd minute in the box. The replays were partially blocked, but there did appear to be contact between the players. Rossi converted the PK and that was that.
The good news? The Blues still played pretty well and barely lost against a potent Sounders attack. The potential bad news (although it could turn out to be good news)? They won't have much time to process the loss, as they'll be taking on the Portland Timbers 2 on Sunday. We'll have more coverage of that game coming up soon.
1. Pepe Miranda: No, he didn't save the PK, but that's a tall ask and Rossi buried it professionally. Miranda gets the credit, despite the loss, for stepping up with three key saves to keep the Blues in the game.
2. Sam Garza: You can debate whether or not his goal was actually a goal, but the second half sub returned from an injury layoff for S2 and his physicality and experience started to prod at OC's defense, leading to the comeback win for his side.
3. Denzel Slager: Faded in the second half but was electric in the first half, and did very well to set up Ramirez's goal.
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