Well, the alternating pattern of results for the Orange County Blues came to an end on Saturday night, as they lost 3-0 to Swope Park Rangers in Kansas City, Missouri. The Blues have now lost two games in a row, as they dropped both of their games the last week in the heartland.
Orange County started the game well, and really looked like they would be taking the lead in the first 30 minutes, with Trevin Caesar testing Swope Park goalkeeper Jon Kempin repeatedly. But the Blues could not find the breakthrough, and the hosts actually took the lead, with USL all-time leading scorer Dane Kelly tallying a few minutes before the halftime break, largely against the run of play.
Brandon Miller, back in goal for the Blues for this game, had a very strong game, despite the scoreline, as he stepped up to make stop after stop. And while it was a close game for more than 75 minutes, the Blues defense showed frailties before the final goals, as Ryan Felix struggled as the game wore on from a center back position and Matt Sheldon became foul-prone during the second 45.
The game was wrapped up after Ayrton came off the bench late for Rangers, as he set up Mark Anthony Gonzalez’s goal off a free kick in the 78th minute, and then set up Johnny Grant’s tally just three minutes later. With the game at 3-0, Swope Park Rangers’ dominance was fully established and a couple subsequent last-gasp stops prevented the scoreline from getting worse from a Blues perspective.
The loss means the Blues remain below the playoff places in the Western Conference and are now on a two-game losing streak. There are still 11 games left in the season, so plenty of time for them to make a charge up the standings, and it was a tough game on the road, far from home, but this team continues to struggle with finding the right chemistry.
The next chance for a result for OC will be a big one, next Saturday at home against local rivals LA Galaxy II. Will the 405 Derby be a change in fortunes for the Blues? Stay tuned.
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