Orange County SC stretched their unbeaten run to eight games, after defeating Sacramento Republic FC 2-0 at Heart Health Park on Saturday.
The win, against a Sac Republic team that picked up two red cards during the course of the game, wrapped up a four-point week for Braeden Cloutier’s team, and Orange County are getting closer to overtaking Phoenix Rising in first place in the Pacific Division.
There were no real surprises in the starting XI for OCSC, with Braeden Cloutier continuing to rotate his core group in this one.
Orange County got to work quickly, with Chris Wehan opening the scoring in the 7th minute.
They got an an insurance tally, against the run of play, in the 37th minute, when Wehan set up Brian Iloski, with Eero Markkanen executing a savvy dummy, with Iloski coolly burying the shot in the box to make it 2-0 to the visitors.
Kevin Alston couldn’t make it to halftime, and Brent Richards replaced him in the 44th minute for OCSC.
OCSC’s prospects got even better deep in first half stoppage time, with Sacramento defender Nabi Kibunguchy sent off for an apparent DOGSO foul on Iloski. The red card looked a bit harsh, to be honest, with another defender nearby, but I’m sure Orange County didn’t really care.
With a huge edge in the game overall, Orange County looked to take their foot off the gas and to pass the ball around the back to kill time in the 2nd half, and with Sacramento not pressing, they didn’t have to relinquish the ball easily.
Aidan Apodaca replaced Markkanen to open the 2nd half, and Kobi Henry entered for Wehan in the 71st minute.
Orange County’s path to victory was essentially paved in the 79th minute, when Sac Republic defender Mitchell Taintor picked up his second yellow card of the game for a foul on Richards. That put Sacramento in a two-goal and two-man hole, and OCSC just needed to see out the rest of the game against a demoralized side.
Cloutier made two late changes, with Raymond Drai replacing Iloski in the 88th minute, and academy signing Sean McTague made his USL Championship debut in the 90th minute for Mikko Kuningas in the 90th minute.
As expected, OCSC closed out the game with a 2-0 win, and it was another outstanding showing for the team. They are perfecting their style of taking an early lead and locking it down defensively, and while the Sacramento red cards gave them a bit of a break and probably helped them save their legs a bit, they got the job done and truly look like they are in fine fettle on both sides of the ball.
Orange County are next in action on Wednesday, when they’ll face another red-hot team, San Diego Loyal. Can they keep rolling, or will they get a heat check? We’ll see what happens.
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