Orange County SC snapped a nine-game winless run, won their first game ever at their new permanent home in Orange County Great Park, and remained in the Western Conference playoff race with a 2-1 win over Swope Park Rangers on Saturday.
Orange County took the lead for the first time in ages just before halftime, as Jerry van Ewijk was brought down in the box and a penalty was called. The Dutch forward took the spot kick himself and scored it to put the hosts up 1-0 in the 43rd minute.
But the lead was short-lived, as Swope Park scored an equalizer immediately after the break, as Kharlton Belmar scored his second goal in as many games against OC this season.
But OC didn’t give up, and in the 65th minute, Irvin Parra scored his first goal for his new team, heading in Juan Pablo Ocegueda’s looping cross to retake the lead.
Despite that, it appeared Orange County would falter once again, as they were called for a penalty after Charlie Lyon tripped Nansel Selbol in the 86th minute. But Lyon got a kick save on Kevin Oliveira’s tame penalty attempt, and Orange County hung on for a much-needed victory.
It’s hard to overstate just how important this game was for Orange County. Not only did they take a lead, but they took it again when they conceded an equalizer. Add to that good contributions from the entire group, with particular praise for van Ewijk, Parra and Lyon for making game-changing plays, and this is the kind of Orange County SC performance we’ve been looking for the last several weeks.
The result keeps OC in 10th place in the West, but they sit just a point out of the final playoff spot, currently occupied by Colorado Springs Switchbacks. With Orange County holding games in hand on the Switchbacks, and a game against them to come at the end of the month, there is still work to be done but Orange County gave themselves a massive boost in their playoff chances on Saturday.
They won’t have much time to bask in the return to winning ways, however, as they face San Antonio FC at home on Wednesday. Can they pick up another win? Might Saturday’s game be a turning point for Orange County’s season? Stay tuned.
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