Orange County SC had a quick rematch against Sacramento Republic on Saturday, and once again, Braeden Cloutier’s side came out the winners, this time by a 3-1 scoreline on Saturday at Heart Health Park.
Ronaldo Damus and Brian Iloski scored their first goals of the season, and OCSC weathered a rugged and feisty game to pick up their second victory of the campaign, both against Sac Republic.
Thomas Enevoldsen couldn’t play in the game, his injury keeping him out, so Iloski got the start in attacking midfield for Orange County on the night.
Sacramento put OCSC under pressure with a few chances around the 10th minute, but the visitors’ resolve held firm and Patrick Rakovsky wasn’t forced into making any saves in the earlygoing.
Orange County scored with a “trick” set piece. A free kick fakeout by Mikko Kuningas in the 22th minute led to a delayed take by the Finnish midfielder, with Ronaldo Damus running onto the inswinger first and bundled it over the net for his first goal for the club.
As the first half wore on, both teams got quite physical, and the game risked getting out of hand, as the teams took turns crowding the referee and complaining.
With the game devolving into a series of fouls on both sides, the teams went into the halftime break with OCSC ahead 1-0.
Orange County then grabbed the all-important insurance tally in the 49th minute, with Eero Markkanen sending an easy header into the net after Chris Wehan’s corner kick was headed back across the goalmouth by Brent Richards.
A few minutes later, in the 52nd minute, the night got a bit easier for Orange County, with Sac Republic defender Dan Casey picking up a straight red card for a kickout at Iloski after he seemed to foul Casey.
But Sac Republic had life at the hour mark, as substitute Tucker Bone bodied up Kevin Alston at the far post, took down a floated ball from Luis Felipe and slammed the shot home to make it 2-1.
Avionne Flanagan came off the bench in the 68th minute for Markkanen, OC’s first sub of the night.
Damus nearly had his second goal of the night a few minutes later, but Sacramento defender Nabi Kibunguchy didn’t give up on the play and made the last-ditch stop on the Haitian.
72' |YES NABI! The defender comes in clutch to deny OC. pic.twitter.com/jHIcJR5lH0— Republic FC (@SacRepublicFC) June 6, 2021
Tommy McCabe replaced Rhys Breen in the 76th minute, and then Nathan Smith entered the game as Orange County’s third substitution two minutes later, for Alston.
Iloski opened his account for the season in the 87th minute to seal the victory. Damus received an outlet pass off a clearance, and he picked up his head and made a good switch to Iloski, one of a few players making runs on the counter. Iloski made a couple cutbacks before burying the shot to make it 3-1.
I think this was another hard-fought game, and the red card probably helped OCSC seal it, but they needed a win and they got it. Scoring three goals and winning this time is a good sign, and with six goals scored in their last two games, even with Enevoldsen missing during most of that, maybe this group is finding their footing in attack and can build consistent scoring threats moving forward.
Orange County will be back in action on Wednesday, when they host San Diego Loyal for the teams’ first meeting of the season. SD are undefeated in their last two games so this should be a good test for both sides.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.