Admittedly Orange County SC had a tough matchup, but they did their hopes of reaching the 2020 USL Championship Playoffs no favors Saturday, after losing 1-0 to Phoenix Rising FC at Casino Arizona Field.
Rufat Dadashov’s first-half tally was the difference on the night, with OCSC sweating their fate, just two games left in the season and two teams still to leapfrog if they want to reach the postseason.
Orange County tried to get the quick goal, with Darwin Jones hitting a sharp shot in the second minute, forcing a save from Phoenix goalkeeper Zac Lubin.
Lubin was forced into action again shortly after the 20-minute mark, as Orange County nearly beat him on a counterattack, but the goalkeeper rushed out to strip Jones of the ball on the rush.
Orange County had more chances in the first half but couldn’t convert, while Phoenix scored against the run of play in the 37th minute, with Dadashov forcing a save from OCSC goalkeeper Frederik Due, but following up twice to knock the ball in eventually. It was unfortunate for Orange County, but Phoenix showed just why they’re so dangerous.
Phoenix almost doubled their lead two minutes later, but Due and Orange County defenders managed to keep the ball out of the net to stay in the game.
In the second half, Phoenix did a good job of holding onto possession and making Orange County SC fight to get it back, wearing them out with passes around he field with the minutes ticking down.
It’s a disappointing result for Orange County, especially since they did well to push for an opener in the first half, then seeing Phoenix pip them to the opening goal, and shutting up shop to hold on for the win. I think OCSC played fairly well but they didn’t have the bounces go their way on the night, and that basically made the difference in this one. Will it be costly for their playoff hopes? Time will tell.
Orange County have two games left in the regular season, coming in the next week. Next up, a 405 Derby clash Wednesday in Carson against LA Galaxy II. The playoffs could be on the line for both sides for this one, so it’s a big game, arguably the biggest to date this season. Should be another good one.
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