The Orange County Blues are finally back in action after their latest bye, and they will take on their last opponent and local competitors, LA Galaxy II, this time in Carson at the StubHub Center's Track and Field Stadium on Friday evening. Not only did Galaxy II beat the Blues 2-1 in that previous meeting, but the Blues have lost all five competitive games historically against the MLS-owned side, and will be looking to gain their first-ever points in the "405 derby."
A side effect of having a season littered with byes so far this season for Orange County is that due to a combination of recent struggles (they haven't won a game since May 16, though they've only played a total of three games across all competitions in that span) and having so many weeks off, the Blues have crashed all the way out of the USL playoff positions for the moment. Of course, they still have 18 games to play, so plenty of time to go in the season to move back up the standings, but they have anywhere between one and four games in hand on all of the other teams in the Western Conference. If they pick up wins in those games, then it's nothing to be concerned about, but I'm rather concerned the head start the rest of the pack has could prove to make the remainder of the season difficult for Orange County.
Anyway, coming back to the game at hand, the Blues can leap back into the playoff spots, even for a brief spell, if they can get that elusive win over Galaxy II. It won't be easy, but the Blues have played very well earlier this season and if they can return to that form, they can beat literally any team in USL. It's just a matter of getting back to that form.
Most notably, I'd expect OC coach Oliver Wyss to use more of a first-choice lineup for this game, so I'd expect the likes of Christofer Ramirez and Denzel Slager, provided they are healthy, to be back on the field, linking up with the central midfield duo of Didier Crettenand and Luka Petricevic. Of course, left back Josh Suggs will be suspended for this game to complete his two-game ban, but I can't imagine much experimentation for a game that is fairly important on a few levels. This is USL though, so we'll have to just see when the lineups come out.
For the Galaxy II, since beating the Blues two weeks ago, they have won a game and lost a game, both on the road. They are in very good form at the moment, and while their lineup may be a bit in doubt with the first team playing in the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday and having an MLS game tomorrow, some of the on-loan guys may not be available for this game. We'll see.
Tale of the Tape:
OC Blues: 16 points (5-4-1), 7th place in Western Conference; Goal Difference: 6 (16/10); Last five matches: L-D-L-W-W
LA Galaxy II: 22 points (7-5-1), 3rd place in Western Conference; Goal Difference: 3 (17/14); Last five matches: W-L-W-W-L
How to Watch: Friday, 7:30 pm PT at StubHub Track and Field Stadium. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased here, and the game will also be streamed on YouTube. Here is the stream, available live or on demand.
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