Orange County SC snapped their nine-game winless streak on Saturday with a vital win for their USL Playoff hopes, as they defeated Swope Park Rangers 2-1 at Orange County Great Park. Meanwhile, LA Galaxy II conceded a late free kick to draw San Antonio FC 1-1 at StubHub Center on Saturday.
Orange County entered the weekend four points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, and extending their winless run to a round 10 games might have been too much to make up. But OC was up for the task from the start against a tricky Swope Park Rangers side.
The first goal came a few minutes before the first half, as Jerry van Ewijk, who was the driving force for Orange County in the first half, drew a penalty and then stepped up to take it himself, beating Andrew Dykstra to make it 1-0.
It appeared Swope Park would peg OC back in a major way just after the restart, as Kharlton Belmar scored his second goal against Orange County this season off a fast break on the flank. But unlike other games, Orange County didn’t hang their heads, and got the go-ahead goal midway through the second half when Irvin Parra headed home Juan Pablo Ocegueda’s wicked cross. It’s the first goal for Parra in an OCSC shirt, and it could turn out to be an important moment in the team’s season.
But Swope Park Rangers had another opportunity to tie up the game, with Charlie Lyon bringing down Nansel Selbol in the box and Kevin Oliveira taking the resultant penalty. But Lyon made a kick save to keep it 2-1, and Orange County held on late to take all three points.
That result leaves OC in 10th place, two places out of the final spot for the postseason and one point back. As a result, if this is the start of improved form, most notably a bunch of wins in the final games, they can absolutely move up to qualify for the playoffs. There is still work to be done, but Saturday’s game was a major shot in the arm for OC’s playoff hopes.
LA Galaxy II continued their improved performances as well on Saturday, but their faint playoff hopes took a major blow in the 1-1 draw against San Antonio. The scoring didn’t start until the second half, when Jean Engola headed in Alejandro Covarrubias’ corner kick to score his first goal in USL and give LA the lead.
But Michael Reed hit a direct free kick goal in the final minutes of regulation for San Antonio FC to tie up the game and ultimately split the points.
The draw keeps LA in 13th place, eight points behind the final playoff spot. They are not mathematically eliminated, but they aren’t far off, and they have a tough game against NorCal rivals Sacramento Republic FC on Saturday. Orange County, meanwhile, will also face San Antonio FC, as the Texas club finish their SoCal road trip on Wednesday in Irvine.