Rio Grande Valley FC snapped Orange County SC’s eight-game unbeaten streak, completed a season sweep over them and won their first road game of the season, with a 2-0 win at Orange County Great Park on Saturday.
Truth be told, on paper Orange County were huge favorites, in sparkling form and near the top of the Western Conference, RGVFC struggling all year and coming in with just three wins. But in the two games these teams played this year, they matched up well and RGVFC bettered the SoCal side.
After an evenly matched start, RGVFC took the lead at the half-hour mark, as Matias Zaldivar made a terrific individual play to dribble through several Orange County defenders, before unleashing an unstoppable shot past Andre Rawls.
Carlos Small then doubled the lead for RGVFC in first-half stoppage time, as his free kick was low and went under the wall, fooling Rawls enough to prevent him from making a full save on the shot.
From there, RGVFC goalkeeper Tyler Deric got to work, stopping everything that came his way, making seven saves on the night and being the star on the field. It was clear that Deric, formerly the starter for the Houston Dynamo who was suspended last year for his second domestic violence arrest, was playing at a higher level than the goalkeepers Orange County typically face, and they couldn’t unlock him.
So it was a frustrating night, but Orange County won’t be facing RGVFC in the playoffs, if that’s any consolation. But seriously, Braeden Cloutier’s group will have a new experience next week, as they head to Tacoma to play Seattle Sounders 2 in a week’s time. It will be the teams’ first meeting this year, and S2 have been struggling. But as we saw in the case of RGVFC this season, that form may not matter if the match-up is even. We’ll see how it goes.
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