Orange County SC needed a win to keep pace in the Group B playoff race in the USL Championship, and got just that Friday, as they defeated 9-man Las Vegas Lights FC 1-0 at Orange County Great Park.
Darwin Jones drew the first Vegas red card and scored the winning goal, as OCSC jumped up the group standings to remain in the hunt for the 2nd place slot and the final postseason berth in the group.
After a rather quiet opening spell, Orange County got a big break in the 29th minute, as Mobi Fehr brought Jones down on a ball over the top, and Fehr was sent off for a DOGSO offense with the foul.
Just before halftime, Las Vegas goalkeeper Lalo Delgado collided with a teammate on a free kick and hit his head on the turf, and was down for some time. It was a scary moment. He did stand up under his own power eventually and continued on.
But even with the man advantage, Orange County went into the halftime break still scoreless and level with Lights FC.
It looked like Jones could open the scoring in the 52nd minute after being set up by Brian Iloski, but Delgado had a good stop to keep Orange County off the board.
Seth Moses received his second yellow card in the 59th minute, putting Las Vegas down to nine men, as OC’s brief to win became even more vital.
They got the go-ahead goal in the 64th minute, as Jones tapped in the goal off Ugo Okoli’s low cross to make it 1-0 Orange County. The goal was Jones’ first of the season.
Francis Jacobs made his USL Championship debut late in stoppage time for OCSC, the teenage prospect getting a milestone in his budding career.
From there, there were some nervy moments but Orange County hung on for the victory, and have moved up one spot in the group standings, to 3rd place, level on points with 2nd-place LA Galaxy II. It wasn’t a beautiful performance, but OCSC got some fortunate bounces and grinded to get the job done, and that’s what they have to do at this point. They live to fight another day.
This was Orange County’s last home game of the season, unless they host a playoff game or more, and they have three regular-season games left on the slate. They’re next in action a week from Saturday on the road against Phoenix Rising FC. Massive game, but it’s another must-win for OCSC as they look to reach the USL Championship playoffs.
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