The Orange County Blues ventured into uncharted territory on Saturday, facing the Western Conference’s top seed, Sacramento Republic FC, in the first round of the 2016 USL Cup Playoffs. The underdogs prevailed in a 5-4 penalty kick shootout after playing 120 minutes of scoreless soccer, winning their first ever playoff game in the process.
The Blues were perfect in the PKs, with Didier Crettenand stepping up to convert the clinching kick, and Josh Cohen making a save for OC to set up the shootout win.
The result means the Blues will be traveling to play Swope Park Rangers next week in Kansas City in the next round of the playoffs.
Akwafei Ajeakwa had a gilt-edged chance on a scramble in Sacramento’s box in the 27th minute, but his shot skimmed the crossbar and went over the target.
Josh Cohen made a crucial leaping save in the 33rd minute to keep Matt LaGrassa’s rocket out of the goal.
Trevin Caesar had a breakaway attempt in the 51st minute, but Republic goalkeeper Evan Newton got the necessary block to prevent a Blues lead.
The teams traded chances for the rest of the second half, but a lack of execution and good defense kept the game scoreless and pushed the sides into 30 minutes of extra time.
The tension ratcheted up in extra time, with the Blues playing their favored opponents evenly throughout the extra time period. While the fouls started to come faster late on, the game really didn’t devolve into a foul-fest.
And then it was onto penalties, with the game ending 0-0.
- Daniel Trickett-Smith scored first for Sacramento (1-0)
- Roy Meeus then scored for OC (1-1)
- Cameron Iwasa scored for Sacramento (2-1)
- Richard Chaplow scored for OC (2-2)
- JJ Koval’s shot was saved by Josh Cohen (2-2)
- Dusan Stepanovic scored for OC (2-3)
- Octavio Guzman scored for Sacramento (3-3)
- Orr Barouch scored for OC (3-4)
- Carlton Cole scored for Sacramento (4-4)
- Didier Crettenand scored for OC to win the shootout and the game! (5-4)
It’s a remarkable result and one that few outside of the Blues organization saw coming. Not only did they prevail as the No. 8 seed over the No. 1 seed, but they made club history in the process and who knows, could make a deeper run yet.
We’ll have more content on this win and the next game in the days to come. For now, what do you think? Leave a comment below!