Two teams entered Friday’s game at Rio Tinto Stadium in desperate need of three points, and it was the Orange County Blues that succeeded, defeating 10-man Real Monarchs SLC 2-0.
The first bit of good fortune for the Blues came in the 11th minute, as Real Monarchs defender Emilio Orozco fouled Didier Crettenand just before entering the hosts’ box, and the result was a very awkward looking challenge. Orozco was carried off the field on a stretcher, and to add insult to injury, received a straight red card as the last defender. On the bright side for him, hopefully, is that the broadcast for the game noted he had a “gash” on his shin and was getting stitches, which sounds better than what the injury could have been.
So the Blues played nearly all the game with a man advantage, but the game was very tight anyway. Monarchs star Ricardo Velazco had a shot that bounced off the post in the second half, but OC goalkeeper Brandon Miller had one of his best performances this season, parrying several attempts aside.
Trevin Caesar, just back from international duty with Trinidad & Tobago, provided the breakthrough just after the hour mark, as his deflected attempt fooled Monarchs goalkeeper Eric Osswald to make it 1-0 for the Blues.
Former Monarchs striker Max Rauhofer then sealed the result in the last 10 minutes, as he redirected an Osswald save rebound back in the net for a 2-0 OC lead.
The win is a huge boost for the Blues’ playoff hopes, with two games remaining, both against likely playoff-bound sides, the first coming Sept. 17 at Anteater Stadium against Rio Grande Valley FC. Can the postseason quest continue? Stay tuned.
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