Orange County SC had their first competitive home game in front of fans in more than 14 months on Saturday, and while it was a tight affair, they delivered a victory to the home fans, defeating Sacramento Republic FC 1-0 at Championship Soccer Stadium.
It was the first win of the season for Orange County, in their second outing of the 2021 season, and it feels like the campaign is well and truly underway for the team.
Braeden Cloutier made several changes to his XI for Orange County, bringing in Eero Markkanen, Mikko Kuningas and Rangers loanee Rhys Breen, making his debut for the club.
Orange County dictated the tempo in the first half, but while they had more speculative shots as they tried to test Sac Republic, they couldn’t find the breakthrough.
OCSC found the breakthrough in the 33rd minute, as Chris Wehan took a feed from Thomas Enevoldsen and was on the mark to beat Sac Republic GK Tomas Gomez.
The teams went into the halftime break with Orange County leading by a goal, a deserved lead for the home side, but with the game far from put away at that stage.
Tommy McCabe was Orange County’s first substitute of the night, replacing Kuningas at the hour mark.
Orange County went pretty defensive as the 2nd half wore on, with Sacramento pushing for an equalizer. Enevoldsen had a chance to ice the game in the 81st minute, with a breakaway down more than half the field, but his shot was just wide with Gomez pushing him just off target at the last moment.
Markkanen exited the game in the 82nd minute, with Avionne Flanagan entering for his pro debut and an expectation to help usher the team to the win.
Considering Sacramento entered the game undefeated, this was an impressive performance indeed, and it showed that OCSC could get the job done in a tight game. They have a lot of games in hand on most of the Pacific Division, but they needed an early win and they got it with a good showing on both sides of the ball.
Orange County will stay home for their next game, against LA Galaxy II in a new chapter of the 405 Derby next Saturday. Should be a good one.
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