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Orange County SC officially eliminated from playoff contention

It went down to the penultimate week, but streak is over.

MLS: U.S. Open Cup-Orange County SC at LA Galaxy Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Orange County SC’s quest to reach the USL Cup playoffs for the third consecutive season ended on Sunday, as a result elsewhere doomed their faint prospects of making a miracle run to the postseason once again.

OKC Energy FC’s win over Swope Park Rangers, coupled with OC’s loss on Saturday against Reno 1868 FC, means the gap between their spot in 10th place, at 40 points, and the final playoff spot of 8th place, now held by Sacramento Republic FC, is five points, too large to overcome with just one game remaining in the season.

At the start of the campaign, it appeared OC would qualify for the playoffs rather easily, as they went 3-1-1 in their first five games, most of those on the road. But a three-game losing streak came immediately after, and the real struggles came in the second half of the season. With the team’s home slate and schedule overall backloaded into the second half, Orange County struggled at the most critical time, going nine games without a win through the busiest part of the campaign.

So, it will be back to the drawing board in the offseason. There were certainly reasons for optimism under first-year head coach Logan Pause, but a combination of injuries and holes in a couple key positions that were belatedly or never filled doomed their hopes of title-hunting this season.

As it stands, the team have one more game this season, on the road on Friday against Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2, in what ironically will probably be that team’s final game ever, if rumors of their demise are to be believed. At least OC should be secure in returning for 2018, and they’ll have one more chance this year to end 2017 on a good note.

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