The Orange County Blues will put their three-game winning streak to the test with a game against one of their toughest opponents this season, Arizona United SC, on the road Saturday evening (7:30 pm PT). This will be the fourth and final regular season match between the teams, with the Blues sporting a 1-2-0 record against AZ United so far. So even though the hosts are eight points back of the Blues in the standings, this is not an opponent to take lightly.
One of the considerations Blues head coach Oliver Wyss will have to ponder is how to use the players available to him. On the bright side, Brenton Griffiths will be back, after winning an appeal on his original two-game suspension, so that should give the Blues a key boost in the back. Chris Cortez will be out this game as he's suspended, but happily Christofer Ramirez is back after serving one of his own last week. Defender Jefrey Payeras, a spot starter, is still gone with the Guatemala U-23 team. Will Pepe Miranda be back in goal? Is Didier Crettenand out after coming off early last week? The good news is that the players Wyss has called on in this stretch of absences have stepped up, but one poor showing could really put a dent in their playoff hopes.
For their part, AZ are in the zone between playing spoilers and really making a push up the standings at this point in the season. They aren't mathematically out of the mix yet, but they pretty much have to pick up nearly all of the available points to have a realistic chance at the postseason. This is a big game for both teams, as the Blues remain right on the edge of the playoff slots, but it's an absolute do-or-die game for United. And given their success against the Blues, there's no reason to be believe they won't be up for this game.
Adding to the intrigue of this game is the fact that two players have crossed lines ahead of this game. Midfielder Milton Blanco is now with the Blues, and defender Romeo Filipovic currently plays for Arizona United. You can bet both players will be providing the lowdown on their old clubs in training this week.
So who will emerge from this game? It's a must-win for both teams, but needing to win and actually doing it are two different matters. We'll find out this evening.
Tale of the Tape:
OC Blues: 33 points (10-8-3), 6th place in Western Conference; Goal Difference: -2 (28/30); Last five matches: W-W-W-D-D
AZ United: 25 points (8-12-1), 10th place in Western Conference; Goal Difference: -19 (25/46); Last five matches: W-L-L-L-L
How to Watch: OC Blues vs. Arizona United will kick off at 7:30 pm PT at Scottsdale Stadium. You can watch the game on YouTube or on the stream embedded below.
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