Brenton Griffiths scored yet another clutch goal for the Orange County Blues, as he headed the gamewinner very late in a 1-0 road win against Western Conference leaders Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 on Wednesday.
In a game that appeared destined to end scoreless, Roy Meeus hit an 88th-minute corner kick that Griffiths nodded in to give the Blues a dramatic win and another key three points in their quest to wrap up a USL playoffs spot this season.
As expected with the recent fixture congestion and with a game coming up on Sunday in Portland, Orange County rotated their lineup and the new-look side was not sharp in attack for much of the game. At the same time, the Blues’ defense was strong and they held firm against the ThunderCaps, who beat the Blues in the season opener and who have stayed atop the Western Conference nearly the entire season.
So in that light, grabbing a late winner through a set piece was not only poetic justice for Whitecaps FC 2’s win against the Blues in the teams’ first meeting, but also a fantastic way to grab maximum points in one of the toughest games of the season to date. A draw would have been a good result, but a win makes it all that much better.
And having Griffiths provide the winner is fitting, considering his knack for scoring important goals for the Blues this season and last. The center back will never be counted on to lead the line, but he’s a steady and underrated option for OC, especially on set pieces.
The victory moves Orange County up to 6th place in the West ahead of the weekend’s fixtures, further improving their playoff hopes at this stage. And if they can get a result against Portland Timbers 2 on Sunday, there could be more movement up the table this week.
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