Orange County SC opened their 2019 USL Championship regular season slate on Saturday with a remarkable 2-2 comeback draw against Reno 1868 FC at Greater Nevada Field in Reno.
The first 30 minutes were fairly harrowing for Orange County, as they primarily sat in a low block in their own half defending Reno under blustery conditions. Braeden Cloutier started five players not on the roster in 2018 — goalkeeper Carlos Lopez Cortez, midfielders Charlie Adams and rookie Danny Crisostomo, and attackers Jerry van Wolfgang and Harry Forrester. The biggest question coming into the game was who would play in central defense. Walker Hume started, as expected as the only center back on the roster, with Joe Amico, who played full back last year, as the other central defender for OCSC.
After the half-hour mark, the game started to open up and Orange County finally started to get hold of the ball. Speculative chances from Van Wolfgang and Michael Seaton led up to the best chance of the first half, as Forrester got the ball on the edge of the 6-yard box and turned a few times to find a shooting lane. He turned too much, however, and held onto the ball too long, and the gilt-edged chance faded.
Reno took the lead in the 63rd minute, as Brian Brown took a ball over the top with his chest, dribbled past Amico, and shot it from close range. They doubled that lead five minutes later, as Lindo Mfeka smashed a layoff from the half moon that Lopez Cortez couldn’t keep out of the net.
OCSC got on the board in the 78th minute, as they forced a turnover pretty high, and Seaton jumped on the free ball, easily stroking it past JT Marcinkowski on the breakaway to cut the margin in half.
On the edge of 90 minutes, Orange County earned a penalty, as Marcinkowski tackled Aodhan Quinn after bobbling a ball into the box. Quinn stepped up to take the crucial PK, and buried it in the 91st minute to complete what looked like an unlikely comeback.
All in all, this was a tough game to kick off the season and Orange County started a little hesitantly, and it showed. On the bright side, they played their way into the match as it wore on and even after going down two goals, they stuck with the game and fought to pick up a result. It really did not look like they would make it happen, but they certainly did, and the magic of 2018 could yet be alive for OCSC in the new season.
The next game for Orange County SC will be next Saturday, in their home opener at Championship Soccer Stadium against Tulsa Roughnecks FC.
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