Orange County SC kick off the 2018 USL regular season Saturday evening with a home match against Phoenix Rising FC at Orange County Great Park (7 pm PT).
It’s the first game of the season with Braeden Cloutier at the helm, facing a Phoenix team that will field Didier Drogba for one last season, plus a supporting cast that truly seems to indicate the Arizona outfit want to be USL Cup contenders this year. Former OC Blues striker Chris Cortez remains on the team, and USL standout Alessandro Riggi is back for another season. They’ve added San Antonio FC scorer Billy Forbes, and some players with a cup of coffee in MLS in Collin Fernandez, Amadou Dia and Mike Da Fonte.
Truthfully, there’s less turnover on Phoenix’s roster, which probably gives them an edge. On the other hand, Orange County are playing at home, which tends to provide a boost. With Champions Soccer Stadium OC’s venue for the entire 2018 season, they’ll have a chance to truly make it a fortress.
But this game won’t be easy. That’s not at all to say that Orange County don’t have a chance — a flipside to having a rather consistent squad is having the element of surprise with opponents, and that’s almost certainly the case for OC. Cloutier has an interesting mix of returning players, experienced players here and abroad, and a few prospects. Will they have the combination to get a result in matchday 1? We’ll find out this evening.
How to watch Orange County SC vs. Phoenix Rising FC: The game is scheduled to kick off at 7 pm PT at Champions Soccer Stadium at Orange County Great Park in Irvine. If you can’t make the game, you can also watch it, live and on demand, on YouTube, the stream below, or at USL’s matchcenter.
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