Orange County SC are now five games unbeaten in USL play, after drawing 1-1 against Rio Grande Valley FC at H-E-B Park on Wednesday night.
OC took the lead as Dusan Stevanovic and Wuilito Fernandes pressured RGVFC defender Ivan Magalhaes into coughing up the ball, and Stevanovic took the feed and hit a blast in the 17th minute.
Orange County were involved in their first Video Assistant Referee game, and a penalty was called for a foul by Oscar Sorto on TJ Casner in the 26th minute, with Eric Bird converting the PK for RGVFC a minute later. VAR evidently agreed with the decision, as the spot kick was taken and the game proceeded.
Fernandes tried an audacious bicycle kick about 10 minutes after the break, but his attempt sailed over goal.
Considering the paucity of chances on the night, and using two new starters in Kevin Jeon and Zach Kobayashi, Orange County sought mostly to defend through the second half and hold possession, moving into RGV’s end when they had the ball and numbers. But overall it is clear Logan Pause has drilled his team to play with much more dedication to defense in the last two games, and it has been effective in helping get results. Charlie Lyon continues to play his part and did quite a bit in keeping the visitors in the game.
Jorginho James picked up a red card late, as Fernandes was apparently hit in the face, and while OC had a few looks deep in stoppage time, they couldn’t find a shock winner. On the balance of play, a win would have been a steal anyway, even if it would have been nice.
The teams are back in action against one another on Saturday evening in Irvine. Orange County pick up a point and move up the Western Conference standings, now in 11th place and just three points away from the last playoff spot, so all things considered, it was a solid showing. Orange County aren’t playing beautiful soccer but they’re five games unbeaten and that’s good enough right now.
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