Orange County SC mounted another comeback early in the 2021 USL Championship regular season, this time having to settle for their first draw with a 1-1 result against San Diego Loyal on Wednesday at Championship Soccer Stadium.
OCSC conceded in the first half but came back and tied up the game in the second, the teams both getting their chances and San Diego GK Trey Muse the man of the match to keep Orange County from grabbing a victory in the end.
Braeden Cloutier brought in two fresh starters for this game, with Tommy McCabe slotting into the midfield and Nathan Smith starting at left back for Orange County.
San Diego had a few looks around the 12th minute, with a scramble to start off the sequence leading to no shots to test Orange County goalkeeper Patrick Rakovsky.
But the visitors drew first blood, with Tumi Moshobane scoring in the 14th minute, his header off a Jack Blake cross was from close enough range that Rakovsky didn’t have a chance of stopping.
Ronaldo Damus nearly made a goal out of nothing in the 18th minute for Orange County, as his acceleration on the dribble into the box saw him breeze past two defenders, before his shot was blocked by Muse. On the subsequent corner kick, Damus’ shot was blocked off the line by a San Diego defender, so OCSC started knocking at the door.
Muse was tested again several minutes later, as the game opened up and Orange County sought the equalizer.
But the teams went into the break with Orange County down 1-0. The teams were actually even in terms of shots and shots on goal, but San Diego had more possession in the 1st half, a bit surprising on the road, and Loyal looked a bit sharper overall on the counterattack, too. However, Orange County weren’t that far off from finding an equalizer, and they went into the break looking to regroup and find it.
Cloutier made a change at halftime for OCSC, with Avionne Flanagan replacing Eero Markkanen, so presumably the manager was opting to get a bit more stout in defense as they mounted a comeback, and to pull off the big forward in a double-game week while he was on a yellow card.
Orange County got their goal in the 50th minute, through Damus, who deserved the goal, as he buried an angled shot off Brian Iloski’s feed.
Jack Imperato replaced McCabe in the 72nd minute and Brent Richards entered for Iloski at the same time, as Orange County sought to find a go-ahead goal in the final minutes.
Damus had a double shot in the 81st minute, the first blocked by Muse, but the second sailed way over the mark.
I think a draw is a fair result, all in all. San Diego had more of the run of play, honestly, but Orange County had plenty of chances and if Muse hadn’t been as sharp as he was, they could have easily won the game. So I think the teams were pretty evenly matched overall, and are good value for the draw.
Orange County will get just a few days to prepare for their next game, Saturday at home against Oakland Roots, for the teams’ first-ever meeting. Oakland have been a wily team so far this season, so it should be a good test for Orange County as they look to keep pace in a tight Pacific Division.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.