The Orange County Blues will attempt to keep their two-game winning streak going and move back to the top of the Western Conference when they host USL debutants Tulsa Roughnecks on Saturday (7 pm PT). The Blues played a gritty game on Wednesday at home to down another new team in the league, the Colorado Springs Switchbacks, and hope they can continue their sparkling form.
Despite a rough start to their opening campaign, and despite losing a game midweek as well, to the LA Galaxy II, the Roughnecks have had some bad luck and are probably due for a turn of fortune. Will that come against Orange County? The Blues will try to ensure it won't.
One of the big questions entering the game is the status of Blues midfielder Didier Crettenand, who left Wednesday's game at the end of the first half with an injury. My inclination is that he won't be available for this game, but here's hoping the team's captain, who was missed despite the positive result against Colorado Springs, won't be out for too long, and whoever is tasked with taking his place in the lineup is ready to go. It could also serve as more time for young midfielder Seung-ju Kim on the field, who has an assist in each of the Blues' last two games, emerging as a good set-up man recently.
The Roughnecks have a couple of former MLS players on their roster, most notably defender Kyle Venter, formerly of the LA Galaxy, and forward Sammy Ochoa, who once played for the Seattle Sounders. And of course, former Blues attacker Gibson Bardsley is returning to his old team in this game. The group overall is still looking to click under head coach David Irving, who has plenty of USL experience, having previously coached the Wilmington Hammerheads. It seems at this stage that they are apt to be on the outside looking in on the playoffs this season, but it's still really early, and they could find a run of form and still move up the table quickly. Could tonight be the start of such a run, or will the Blues continue to roll? We'll find out this evening.
Be sure to check out our Three Questions feature on the Roughnecks from Friday with Tulsa Soccer Show.
Tale of the Tape:
OC Blues: 15 points (5-2-0), 2nd place in Western Conference; Goal Difference: 8 (14/6); Last five games: W-W-L-W-W
Tulsa Roughnecks: 5 points (1-4-2), 10th place in Western Conference; Goal Difference: -7 (6/13); Last five games: L-D-L-W-L
How to Watch: 7 pm PT, Live at Anteater Stadium, Irvine, or on YouTube (stream below is available live and on demand for your convenience).
What do you think? Leave a comment below!