Continuing to make a statement in the Western Conference, Orange County Blues FC improved their playoff standing with a 3-1 home victory Saturday night over Portland Timbers 2 at Anteater Stadium.
Chris Cortez’s brace and Denzel Slager’s header lead Orange County to a big win.
It would take just over seven minutes for the Blues to find the back of the net, as Cortez recorded his first goal of the night. Defender Jack McCracken played a long ball up to forward David Estrada, who beat T2’s Anthony Manning in the box to gain possession. As Estrada battled for space, he played the ball across the box for the one-time, left-footed volley by Cortez to give the Blues the 1-0 lead. The score would remain 1-0 in the Blues’ favor going into halftime.
Timbers 2 would come out with an attacking mentality in the 2nd half as a pair of substitutions added more numbers to the forward position. However, it would be Cortez again who would put the second goal on the board. While trying to take advantage of a counter attack, Cortez was fouled from behind and opted to take the free kick himself. He shot the ball low and hard, with the perfect pace to bounce past T2 goalkeeper Justin Luthy for the local forward’s second goal.
Once more in the 67th minute, OC found its attack with Estrada crossing the ball to the back post for Denzel Slager. Slager powerfully headed a ball on a seemingly impossible angle past Luthy to increase the score to 3-0.
T2 found the net in the 88th, after the referee awarded a penalty off a corner kick foul. Fatawu Safiu buried the ball in the right back post to prevent the shutout. Despite giving up a late goal, OC held on to the 3-1 victory.
Orange County improves to 12-9-3, with 39 points. Portland Timbers 2 falls to 10-13-2, with 32 points.
The Blues return home next Saturday, September 5, to take on the LA Galaxy II at Anteater Stadium, with kickoff starting at 7 p.m. PT.