On Saturday, the Orange County Blues will attempt to make club history in making a USL Cup playoffs run, beginning with a match against the Western Conference’s top seed, Sacramento Republic.
In order to get a sense of what could be in store in that showdown, let’s take a look at the history of these two teams, both this year and all-time.
2016 Season Series: Republic won 2-1-1
The regular season series, consisting of four games between the California rivals, began on a high note for Orange County, who took a 1-0 win at Bonney Field on April 30. Pavle Popara scored the Blues’ goal that night, and he left and returned to Europe midseason, but the Blues dominated nearly all of that game and left as deserving winners. Off to a good start!
But the game-by-game results turned to Sac Republic’s favor from then on, with the teams drawing 3-3 in a wild encounter on July 10 at Anteater Stadium. The Blues were 1-0 down before eventually going 3-2 up, but Republic got an equalizer in the dying minutes to split the points. It was an entertaining game, but both sides probably felt like they could have won that one and didn’t.
Then the results turned firmly in Sacramento’s direction, as they won the final two regular season meetings, by a 1-0 margin on August 24 off a late Cameron Iwasa golazo, and then 2-1 on September 3, with the Blues going into the break with a 1-0 lead before Sacramento rallied in the second half to take all three points and the regular season series against Orange County, too.
Ok, so Sacramento appeared to get better against OC as the season progressed. Will it play an impact on Saturday? Stay tuned. For now, let’s look at more of the history:
OC Blues’ all-time record vs. Sacramento Republic: 3-5-2
The all-time record is in Sacramento’s favor, but basically by just one win. The Blues took the 2015 season series but lost the other two years. In 2014, OC only batted .250, but they had a very difficult year and the expansion Republic were a supernova that ended up winning the league title.
So all things considered, this is a nearly even series between the clubs, with the caveat that the total sample size is pretty small.
Playoff history: N/A
Saturday’s game will be the first postseason meeting between these clubs. The Blues did not qualify for the playoffs in 2014, and lost in their first game to LA Galaxy II last year. Sacramento have qualified each of their three years of existence, winning the 2014 USL championship over Harrisburg City Islanders, and losing to LA Galaxy II in the first round before Los Dos met the Blues and beat them.
So this year’s playoff game will be uncharted territory between these clubs. But it will be interesting to see what the next chapter holds for this SoCal-NorCal rivalry.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!