LA Galaxy II was off this past weekend in USL play, but Orange County SC continued their exhausting stretch of games with two matches in the last week, a resounding home loss and a heartening road draw.
The home loss came on Tuesday, as OC closed up shop at their temporary stadium at Orange County Great Park with a final game, against Colorado Springs Switchbacks, who cruised 4-0 in the teams’ first meeting of the season. While Orange County were second-best throughout the game, two Switchbacks golazos to open the scoring in the first half, from Luke Vercollone and Shane Malcolm, set the tone for the game and OCSC were thoroughly beaten. Considering their schedule is heavily backloaded due to the construction of their new stadium, the loss looked like it could be a bad omen for the games to come, as OC needed to pick up points to get back above the playoff line in the Western Conference, as they had dropped back under the postseason slots.
Fortunately, they found some footing on Saturday with a heartening performance on the road against Swope Park Rangers, in a 1-1 draw. The game started badly, a trend that has cropped up during the season for Orange County, as they conceded just four minutes into the game, with SPR’s Kharlton Belmar scoring off a sloppy turnover in Orange County’s half. While the first half looked as though OC would be doomed to another loss, and maybe the deficit would be the main story, they found traction in the second half and earned back a point.
19-year-old Zach Kobayashi scored his second goal of the season in the second half, as his well-taken bloop shot beat SPR goalkeeper Adrian Zendejas to tie up the game. Kobayashi was a late addition to the Orange County squad after he spent some time launching his professional career in Eastern Europe, and he didn’t play much in the early part of the season. But Saturday’s game was his best yet in USL, and if he can find a vein of form he could be not only a regular for Logan Pause’s team but perhaps even a star on the rise.
Orange County’s crazy August continues this week with two more games, but this week the good news is that the team will inaugurate their new home at Orange County Great Park in Irvine, as they move into their permanent stadium after playing in the temporary facility for a little over three months. If the new digs help them pick up points in this sprint to the finish, it will definitely become home sweet home in a hurry.
Orange County SC host Tulsa Roughnecks on Tuesday at Orange County Great Park. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 pm PT. You can buy tickets on Orange County SC’s website or watch the stream at USL’s matchcenter.