It was a tale of two games for the Southern California USL teams this weekend, as LA Galaxy II lost at home 1-0 to Swope Park Rangers on Friday, and Orange County SC tied Portland Timbers 2 3-3.
The LA loss was disheartening on a few levels. While it was just a one-goal defeat, with substitute Nansel Selbol scoring a low shot through traffic just past the hour mark for Swope Park, the Galaxy seemed behind the pace for the most part throughout the game. Galaxy II did have chances, including an open header by defender Tyler Turner that bounced off the turf but over the goal in the end, and a Ryo Fujii strike that was parried away by SPR’s Adrian Zendejas. But Swope Park, who while also being an MLS2 team are admittedly older and more experienced than the current group featuring for Galaxy II, had a firm handle on the game and shut down LA handily overall.
The result is that LA remain in second-to-last place in the Western Conference and haven’t won a home game since their season debut in late March. We’ve been told it’s part of the process, but while they weren’t blown out in this game, LA Galaxy II are struggling to really put a complete performance together these days, and that’s reflected in their position in the standings.
On the other side of the coin was Orange County SC’s wild 3-3 draw against Timbers 2. Portland is the worst team in the Western Conference, who came in with just a single win and a lone draw in 15 games this season, so dropping points to them may prove critical later in the season. But in terms of how the game unfolded, a draw turned out to be a good result for Orange County at home.
The visitors, who had scored one goal in four games, took the shock lead in the first half, with Villyan Bijev scoring off a corner kick. They held that through the halftime break and into the opening minutes of the second half, before Carlos Alvarez knotted up the score just before the hour mark. Six minutes later, Orange County took the lead behind a Roy Meeus penalty, and it appeared OCSC were waiting for T2’s heads to drop after conceding the lead. That didn’t happen, however, as Russell Cicerone scored in the 71st minute off another corner kick, to make it 2-2, and Portland got a penalty of their own in the 85th minute, with Bijev scoring his second of the game, to give Timbers 2 the shock 3-2 lead late.
From there, the game got even wilder, with a short brawl ensuing, and two Orange County players, Jerry van Ewijk and Ami Pineda, getting sent off, and Portland’s Lamar Batista also getting his marching orders. The melee took several minutes to sort out, and with Orange County trailing and with only nine players to T2’s 10, it seemed the game was over.
Except it wasn’t. On the very first play following the ejections, Orange County took a long free kick that substitute Gustavo Villalobos connected on and turned in to tie it up at 3-3. Both sides battled for a winner but honors ended even on the night after a wild game.
It was the second game in a row where Orange County had gotten into a shootout, with the result not being quite as positive this time around. While there are definite questions about the team’s defense at the moment, the attack seems to be clicking pretty well, and coincidentally, all three scorers for OCSC this week scored for them last time out, too, with Villalobos scoring the key goal in both contests. If they can keep the attacking intensity and finishing up but lock it down better in the back, they could finally find the formula needed to pick up a slew of wins.