Orange County SC Beats Rio Grande Valley FC to Inch Closer to Playoff Spot

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Orange County SC Beats Rio Grande Valley FC to Inch Closer to Playoff Spot

Team's unbeaten run stretches to six games.

Orange County SC are on a roll at the moment, six games unbeaten since returning from a long break in USL play, with their latest triumph coming on Sa

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Orange County SC are on a roll at the moment, six games unbeaten since returning from a long break in USL play, with their latest triumph coming on Saturday in a 4-0 home win over Rio Grande Valley FC.

The teams, of course, met just three days earlier, playing to a 1-1 draw at RGVFC’s venue. On Saturday, Orange County came out of the gates flying, definitely raising the energy level after three games where they were forced to basically grind out something. They were on the board just eight minutes in, courtesy of Jeannot Esua, who made a late run and hit an unstoppable shot on Richard Chaplow’s cross.

Roy Meeus was the next scorer, in the 28th minute after a penalty had been called against Rio Grande Valley for a handball. From there, with a 2-0 lead OC should have firmly been in control, but for the first half of the second 45, RGVFC pushed them pretty well and had several close misses on goal. But for all the bluster they couldn’t break through, and Orange County grabbed two late goals: a header from Wuilito Fernandes in the 82nd minute and a debut goal for Zach Kobayashi moments after coming off the bench, in the 86th minute.

The big win moved Orange County to within one spot and one point of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, and ensured they remain one of the hottest teams in the league at the moment, while still holding games in hand on the rest of the competition. With Jerry van Ewijk back from suspension — he looked eager to score on Saturday, and will likely break through before long — the team may be getting back some of the top players with fixture congestion looming in the weeks ahead.

But at the same time, this stretch has given more players in midfield and attack a chance to play, and many have been up for it. Esua, Kobayashi and Monday Etim have scored debut USL goals in recent weeks, Dusan Stevanovic has also tallied and Fernandes has turned out to be a savvy signing by OCSC, as he’s been given the mantle of leading the line with Duke Lacroix still injured, and he’s been on roll the past week.

All in all, Saturday’s win shows Orange County aren’t just getting results, they may actually have weathered a tough stretch of games and come out the other side even better. And if that turns out to be the case, they’ll definitely be a playoff team in 2017.