Barry Venison’s tenure as Head Coach of the Orange County Blues officially began on Saturday night with a big win. The Blues faced their local rivals, LA Galaxy II, at Anteater Stadium at UC Irvine, and came away victorious, 2-0.
Richard Chaplow and Mats Bjurman notched goals to help the Blues to seal their first-ever season series win against LA.
The first half started out even for around 15 minutes, and then things changed for LA. First, in the 18th minute, Galaxy II goalkeeper Bennett Sneddon suffered a leg injury and had to be subbed off for Eric Lopez. 10 minutes later, the dynamic of the game completely changed. LA’s Hugo Arellano brought down Trevin Caesar on an open breakaway, garnering a sending off from the referee.
Orange County spent the rest of the half pushing offensively with their man advantage, and were rewarded just before the halftime whistle. Bjurman sent a cross to the left flank, which found a charging Andrae Campbell. The Jamaican defender then quickly found an unmarked Chaplow in the box, who finished to put the Blues up, 1-0.
In the second stanza, Galaxy II came out with some extra pressure on the offensive end, creating a number of chances on frame, but could not find the net. The Blues’ man-advantage evaporated in the 67th minute, as Oriol Cortes was issued his second yellow card. With close to 15 minutes left in the match, Bjurman added some insurance for Orange County, as he slotted a ball into the net that bounced out of the box off a free kick for his first professional goal. Bjurman, a rookie from UC Irvine, had a fantastic match, as he was involved in both goals and played very well defensively throughout.
It was obvious that these teams aren’t big fans of each other, as rough challenges, chippiness, and angry exchanges of words dominated the last minutes of the match. Onalfo had given the referees too much of an earful by the 88th minute, resulting in an early dismissal before the match finished with a 2-0 win for the home side.
With their 10th win of the season, Orange County has certainly increased their chances of earning a spot in the USL Playoffs. In addition, the Blues finish the season series with LA Galaxy II at 2-1-1. It’s the first time in the club’s existence, going back to when the LA Blues played the LA Galaxy Reserves, that they’ve ever won their season series with their rivals up the 405.
Orange County has a short turnaround before their next match, Wednesday night at home against Sacramento Republic FC. Kickoff from Anteater Stadium is at 7:30PM.
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