It’s a big night, again, for Orange County SC, as they hold their formal grand opening of their new, permanent stadium at Orange County Great Park in Irvine on Friday, where they’ll play Phoenix Rising FC for the second time this season.
The last time Phoenix came to town, the teams finished a very chippy game 1-1, with two very late goals, including a very, very late injury time equalizer by Didier Drogba. It was also the best attended Orange County game of the season, so it’s perhaps not coincidental that the team has chosen this fixture to be the big grand-opening bash for the stadium.
Of course, OC opened the stadium on Tuesday, played to a creditable if somewhat blah 0-0 draw against Tulsa Roughnecks. Right now, OC and Phoenix are next to each other in the standings, with Orange County holding a two-point advantage. If they are able to take a win from this game, they’ll be five points ahead, and will move into the playoff spots to boot, so this game is pretty important.
Is it a must-win? Maybe not, and with so many games left to go this season, there is a lot of soccer yet to be played, something that could prove a salve if they don’t get maximum points. Given the fatigue the threadbare squad has shown recently — a reminder the team isn’t playing badly, they’re more or less trying to get through a brutal stretch of games — a win is not guaranteed. But we know that at their best this Orange County team can be a contender in the Western Conference. The time is approaching when they need to show that side again. Will it be tonight? Stay tuned.
Tale of the Tape:
Orange County SC: 28 points (7-6-7), 10th place in Western Conference; Goal Difference: -1; Last five games: D-D-L-D-L
Phoenix Rising FC: 26 points (7-7-5), 11th place in Western Conference; Goal Difference: -5; Last five games: D-W-L-L-W
How to Watch Orange County SC vs. Phoenix Rising FC: The game is scheduled to kick off at 7:30 pm PT at Orange County Great Park in Irvine. You can watch the stream on ESPN3/WatchESPN.
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