All season, Orange County SC had been seeking a statement win against a fellow Western Conference contender, and on Saturday, they got what they were looking for, as they defeated Phoenix Rising 4-3 in a wild match in Arizona. OC raced out to a huge lead before barely ekeing out the win, but they took the three points nonetheless.
Phoenix were dealt a blow in the 14th minute, as forward/playmaker Alessandro Riggi was injured and had to exit the game.
For a seven-goal thriller, the first goal didn’t come until the 39th minute. Both teams were active but not quite connecting up to that point, but Orange County broke the dam at that point, with Michael Seaton taking a pass from Aodhan Quinn slaloming upfield and slamming home a shot from outside the box. It’s Seaton’s sixth goal of the year.
Thomas Enevoldsen then got in on the action three minutes after the restart, with another blast from beyond the 18-yard box that beat Phoenix goalkeeper Carl Woszczynski, to bring Orange County up 2-0 and give the Dane his 13th goal of the season, tied for the lead in the USL Golden Boot race.
In the 52nd minute, Jason Johnson had a volley attempt from close range that Andre Rawls, back in the lineup after being injured in the last game against Phoenix, made the crucial stop to keep the home side off the board to that point.
Orange County defender Walker Hume drew a penalty in the 64th minute, with contact but not probably a stone-cold penalty, frankly. But Quinn stepped up and buried yet another penalty to give OC a commanding 3-0 lead.
Seaton then grabbed his second goal of the night in the 67th minute, with a tap-in from a ball over the top by Enevoldsen, making it a rout at 4-0.
But not so fast, as Phoenix scored three unanswered goals to make it interesting. Moments after Seaton’s second goal, a spell of sloppy play in the back by Orange County led to a penalty for Rising FC, as Hume brought down Solomon Asante. Asante took the spot kick himself to make it 4-1.
Devante Dubose then made it 4-2 in the 73rd minute, as his effort on goal trickled past Rawls, possibly with a touch from Asante, although the official score gives the goal to Dubose. From there, the rally was well and truly on for the hosts, and Orange County were holding on.
Kevaughn Frater’s shot for Phoenix went off the post in the 87th minute, and Asante scored again deep in stoppage time to make it 4-3, but time ran out on the Phoenix rally and OC got the win.
The performance may not be perfect, in how Orange County seemed to struggle to close out the game, but a win is a win, and especially grabbing a victory on the road against the team level on points with them in the standings, you take what you get. At the very least, extending their unbeaten streak to six games should give Orange County SC plenty of confidence and momentum as they continue in the final months of the season.
They won’t have a ton of time to contemplate the win, as they’ll be back in action on Wednesday, at home against a new opponent, Las Vegas Lights FC. Orange County won’t be getting the full Lights FC treatment with it taking place in Irvine, but that experience will be coming soon enough. For now, they’ll have a game against the unusual approach of Chelís, his son Isidro Sanchez, and the rest of Las Vegas on Wednesday evening.
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