Orange County Blues FC concluded their 2015 regular season on top of USL’s Western Conference, battling to a 0-0 draw vs Sacramento Republic FC (in front of 3,000 fans at Anteater Stadium.
Defense was the theme throughout the night, as each side was able to limit decent chances on frame. Sacramento’s Justin Braun had three efforts in the first half that went for naught. Pavle Popara and Josh Suggs also had chances come up empty. Goalkeeper Pepe Miranda made a big save on Braun towards the end of the half, which resulted in a volley by Danny Barrera that sailed high.
The second half brought more of the same, with each side holding each other off the scoresheet. Chances by Popara and Chris Cortez came up unsuccessful. Miranda came to the rescue once again when San Jose Earthquakes loanee Mark Sherrod took advantage of a turnover in the Republic penalty area, but the Cuban goalkeeper came off his line to eliminate the threat. Substitute Nikola Ilich fired a free kick in the 87th minute that went just wide right of the goal. The back and forth action continued until the final whistle, ending in a scoreless draw.
The draw earns OC Blues FC (14-9-4, 47 pts) 1st place in the conference at the end of the season, a feat never achieved by the club. Now the attention turns to the USL Playoffs, where OC, as the one-seed, earns a bye to the conference semifinals. The time and date for that match will be announced by the club at a later date.
Sacramento Republic FC (13-8-7, 46 pts) finishes the season in 4th place, and will face LA Galaxy II on Sunday, September 27th at Bonney Field in the first round of the USL Playoffs.