Orange County SC and Saint Louis FC played a tight, gritty game that opened up in the final minutes, resulting in a 1-1 draw at Championship Soccer Stadium in Irvine on Saturday night.
OC held the edge in possession but little else on the night, as Saint Louis held a huge edge in both total shots and in shots on target. But while Orange County opened the season with a scoring blitz, their defense has taken over in recent games and this was another occasion where the backline and goalkeeper Andre Rawls stepped up to help the team grab a result. And on the bright side, the team is three games unbeaten at home right now.
Through 75 minutes, the game remained scoreless and Saint Louis looked more likely to find the goal. Orange County found their breakthrough with a stroke of luck, as Saint Louis defender Phanuel Kavita headed in an Aodhan Quinn free kick in the 78th minute to put the hosts ahead through an own goal.
But Saint Louis came clawing back a few minutes later, as Lewis Hilton slammed in an equalizer, making OC’s fortunate lead short-lived.
As USL games are sometimes wont to do, things fell apart at the end, as Kontor Owusu-Ansah was the recipient of a studs up tackle from Jonathan Barden, with the Saint Louis player receiving a straight red card in second-half stoppage time, before SLFC head coach Anthony Pulis also received his marching orders in the aftermath.
It was too late in the match to really capitalize on the man advantage, however, and Orange County were likely fairly content to come away with a draw considering the run of play on the night.
On balance, the draw was fair and Saint Louis are a pretty good team, so it wasn’t a result to sniff at for Orange County. At the same time, with OC scoring a total of three goals in their last three games — two from penalties and the third an own goal — it’s worth getting concerned with the sputtering output from the attack after starting the season so well. On some level, the quality of the opposition in both runs has played a role, but Orange County are going to need to get off the mark again soon if they want to truly compete in the Western Conference this season.
OCSC have a bye next week, and will be back in action at home in two weeks, as they’ll host expansion side Fresno FC on May 26. Should be a good game for the California sides.
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