The Orange County Blues will play their next playoff game on Sunday against Swope Park Rangers, and will once again be the underdog, both as the lower seed and because they’ll be on the road.
Of course, it’s always worth looking at the prior history between the clubs to see if there’s any insight to be gleaned for the upcoming game. In a one-game knockout game, prior form may or may not play a role, as we learned with the Blues’ win over Sacramento Republic FC last weekend, but it’s still worth looking into.
However, the all-time history between the teams is paltry, with just one prior meeting. That came in July, with Sporting Kansas City’s USL team notching a 3-0 victory in the heartland. So the Blues record against SPR is 0-1-0.
But of note in that game is how Rangers won it. Like their 3-0 victory last week at home in the playoffs against LA Galaxy II, Swope Park Rangers took a 1-0 lead fairly deep into the match (just before halftime against the Blues, at about the 75 minute mark vs. LA) before pouring it on with two late goals to seal the win.
And one player was instrumental in both of those wins for SPR. Forward Mark Anthony Gonzalez scored a goal in the win over Orange County and had both insurance tallies last week, too. With the likes of Kris Tyrpak and Dane Kelly wearing down defenses early in a game, Gonzalez looks like the kind of player who can heat up late or come off the bench to wreak havoc on tired opponents.
So the track record, such that it is, isn’t stellar for OC, but the sample size is extremely small, too. It may not be insignificant, but there appear to be some broad trends on how Swope Park has succeeded this year that the Blues can use to try and counteract on Sunday. Can they pull off another upset? We’ll find out this weekend.
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