Often, if one team has failed to beat another team at any sport in the teams' histories, the team doesn't hype up the game all that much. After all, why set yourselves up for another crushing blow?
The Orange County Blues aren't running away from history, however. They want to confront it, head on. And they want to change the tide against local rivals LA Galaxy II.
The Blues have never beaten Galaxy II in seven tries across two seasons, and furthermore have picked up a solitary point against the MLS reserve side. It's the type of record that leaves most teams apprehensive about the next meeting.
But Orange County are hyping Saturday night's game at Anteater Stadium in Irvine as a real occasion, billing it "possibly the biggest and most important match in the club's history," even though the Blues have been to the postseason before, and that barring a real slide in the final four matches of the regular season, look set to return to the USL playoffs this year.
Why all the optimism? Why big up a game against a boogeyman opponent at the business end of the season?
First, OC's lone point against Galaxy II came on July 16, just after they stopped a massive slide, winning just twice and drawing once in nine league matches. After grabbing a draw against OKC Energy, they then did the same against Galaxy II, and since then they've only lost once in six matches. That result against the fellow SoCal side may not have turned the tide by itself, but it certainly gave Oliver Wyss' side a boost heading into the final months of the season.
In addition to getting that result, Orange County are in great form compared to the rest of the West. According to this chart on Sac Republic site Indomitable City Soccer, the Blues are one of the most in-form teams in the West, and are in the best form among the teams competing for a playoff spot, along with the already-clinched OKC Energy. Of course, just because you are playing well doesn't automatically mean you're going to steamroll a team you've never beaten, but the team is playing well, and that shouldn't hurt their chances.
There's every chance OC could struggle and end up losing this game and disappoint the Blues fans in attendance on Saturday, and from the team's perspective, that would certainly be a bummer. But this is also an excellent opportunity to effectively create a playoff game without it actually being an elimination match, against a team they could very well meet once again in the playoffs before long. As Blues technical director Barry Venison told The Goat Parade exclusively this week, "Every standard [at this club] had to be raised across the board" this season. By facing the challenge of playing a team they've yet to beat directly, it could turn out to be a turning point for the Blues overall.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!