Week three of the 2017 USL regular season is here, and the local USL teams are back in action on Saturday once more. LA Galaxy II will travel to Arizona to take on Phoenix Rising FC (check out the preview for that game here), while Orange County SC will also be on the road once again, heading up to Oregon to play Portland Timbers 2 at Providence Park.
Two years ago, Orange County played an early season game at Providence Park, and came away winners, thoroughly outplaying their debutant opponents in the process. Over time, OC have had T2’s number, with a 3-1-0 all-time record against the MLS2 side, although the last meeting between the teams was Timbers 2’s first win in the series.
And while history may tell us one thing, the amount of roster turnover and offseason makeover for OCSC top to bottom in the organization means that past precedent may not mean much, if anything at all. It’s a new season, and even with both teams making major changes to their rosters since last season, T2 actually have more holdovers from 2016 than Orange County.
Both teams are coming off losses last week, with Portland 0-3-0 so far to start the campaign. On the bright side, all of their losses have been narrow 1-0 affairs, so a tweak here or there could change their fortunes considerably. But pressure does seem to be mounting to tally that first victory of the season.
It will be interesting, meanwhile, to see how Orange County respond to their first loss of the year. After a perfect run through preseason and a win to start the season, they faltered badly in an admittedly tough venue in Sacramento last week, losing by a 4-0 scoreline in the end. Nobody expected Logan Pause’s side to go undefeated through the season, but his team found its first adversity of the season and it will be interesting to see how they respond to the defeat this week. Add to that the difficult start to the season, with six consecutive road games before they make their home debut in Orange County Great Park, and it will be interesting to see if OCSC can rise to the challenge or if there will be more growing pains in the games ahead.