Orange County SC lost 1-0 to San Antonio FC at Orange County Great Park on Wednesday. As a result of the victory, San Antonio officially clinched their USL Cup Playoffs spot for 2017, while Orange County failed to get back into the playoff slots and remain a point and two spots out of the running.
The good news is that both teams were eager for a result and went for the game, with the match having a higher tempo than these late-season midweek fixtures tend to. OC newcomer Rodrigo Pacheco came tantalizingly close to opening the scoring in the early minutes, but his header went over the target. The teams were strong defensively, and the game remained scoreless through the first half, with Orange County pushing the game to that point.
But San Antonio wrestled greater control on the match after the break, and they found the only goal they needed in the 55th minute. Ben Newnam was credited with the tally, as his free kick bounded in past Orange County’s Charlie Lyon after Sebastian Ibeagha appeared to (unintentionally) dummy the ball right in front of goal. It was a bit of a fluke play, but Orange County seemed to know how big of a mistake it would be.
Several players had close calls in the game, including shots from Jerry van Ewijk and Carlos Alvarez that barely missed the goal, but Orange County never found the equalizer, and their hopes of moving up in the standings were dashed.
Given the context, that San Antonio is one of the best teams in the Western Conference and that Orange County narrowly lost despite playing quite well, it’s just one of those games that happens to every club. But given this is one of the final games on hand over the rest of the West, and they failed to get even a point here, it’s a disappointing result, and makes the work of getting into the playoffs more difficult. It’s not impossible, but it’s not going to be easy.
Orange County hit the road again on the weekend, where they’ll play Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 in British Columbia on Sunday. The must-win train moves on for OC, with six games to go they need to get the results now.
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