Alex Dixon had his second good game against Orange County SC this season, as he scored a goal and set up an own goal in a 2-1 win by OKC Energy FC at Orange County Great Park on Friday.
The game, a veritable playoff “six-pointer” between the two sides who were right around the final playoff spot, is a pretty significant blow for Orange County, who have yet to win in their new permanent stadium in three games and are seven games total without a win now.
OKC were on the front foot from the start, leaving the match commentators to muse that Energy looked more like the home team than Orange County. OC held a slight edge in possession, but OKC dominated nearly every other category, on both sides of the ball, and after watching the game it was clear they were deserved winners.
The scoring started in the 35th minute, as Dixon took a feed from Richard Dixon (no relation) and slotted the shot past Charlie Lyon to put the visitors ahead. From there, Energy FC made it 2-0 shortly after the break, as Alex Dixon’s low cross was turned into the net for an own goal by Orange County defender Joe Franco.
Orange County did pick up their game in the final 35 minutes, and there was a clear culprit behind it — midfielder Carlos Alvarez made his long-awaited return to the field after an injury had kept him out for several weeks. Alvarez lacked a bit of match sharpness, as he had two critical chances late that he couldn’t keep on target, but make no mistake: His insertion into the match provided a clear boost for Orange County’s attack.
OC did score to cut the deficit, as Jerry van Ewijk made a nice diagonal run into the box on a one-two with Wuilito Fernandes and beat OKC goalkeeper Cody Laurendi with a low shot in the 65th minute. But Orange County couldn’t replicate their effort last week when they scored a late equalizer, and the move into the new permanent home has yet to pay dividends on the on-field results.
The loss leaves Orange County below the playoff line, but more concerning, they’re now four points behind OKC in the final spot, and the rest of the weekend’s games are still to come. OC still have a slight advantage with at least one game in hand on the teams directly above them, but those games in hand are almost all gone and the perceived advantage of them has nearly been wiped completely away during the winless streak. There is time to make a push up the table, and Alvarez’s return is a good sign, but Orange County needs wins, fast, if they want to return to the postseason. Their next chance for that comes on Saturday at home against Reno 1868 FC, the expansion team Orange County beat in the season opener, but Reno has surged in the meantime to become a fearsome group at this point in the year. It’s going to be a tough test.
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