Orange County SC left the door open, but results broke their way on Saturday, as they finished the 2018 USL regular season in first place in the Western Conference, thereby clinching the top seed in the conference for the 2018 USL Cup Playoffs.
OCSC lost their regular season finale to Reno 1868 FC by a 3-1 scoreline on Saturday, but had a cushion built in coming into the final match. The team that could catch them for the No. 1 seed, Phoenix Rising FC, entered the night three points back. If they had won their game against Portland Timbers 2, and also overcome the goal difference edge, which coming into their match was +4 in favor of Orange County, they could have overtaken the SoCal side.
But Phoenix managed to lose 1-0 at home against Portland, so Phoenix finished three points behind OC for the season, and Orange County captured the first-place finish in the end. In fact, Sacramento Republic vaulted up to 2nd place in the West with a 1-0 win over Las Vegas Lights, just one point behind OCSC in the end.
Orange County finished the season with a 20-8-6 record, racking up 66 points along the way. That blows away their previous best record, in 2015 when they finished atop the Western Conference with a 14-9-5 record, on 47 points. One caveat, USL played just 28 games in 2015, six games fewer than this year.
We’ll see how the playoffs go, but it can be credibly argued this is OC’s best season in franchise history. They matched the regular-season finish in 2015, but OC did win a playoff game in 2017. If they can win a playoff game or two (or three, or four) this year, this will unequivocally be the best season in team history. But this regular season has been a special one.
Orange County will begin the 2018 USL Cup Playoffs next Saturday at Championship Soccer Stadium in Irvine against either San Antonio FC or Swope Park Rangers, depending on the outcome of SPR’s game on Sunday to finish their season. Kickoff is currently scheduled for 7 pm PT, and you can buy tickets on Orange County SC’s website.
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