It was a weekend for goals for the Southern California USL teams, although the outcomes differed in each match. Orange County SC beat Seattle Sounders 2 4-3 in a wild game on Saturday, and then LA Galaxy II lost 3-2 to Sacramento Republic FC.
Orange County returned to league action after three weeks away, hosting S2 in just their third home game of 2017. They moved fast, earning a penalty converted by Roy Meeus, forcing an own goal, and then getting a third goal in short order from Carlos Alvarez to give the hosts a 3-0 lead by the half-hour mark. Heading into the break, it looked like the game was all over, especially with Seattle bringing just two substitutes and most of the USL regulars either with the Sounders first team or at the Development Academy playoffs with the Sounders academy.
But full credit to Seattle, who battled back in the match, scoring twice after the restart to make it 3-2. Gustavo Villalobos came off the bench and scored with about 10 minutes to go for OC, seeming to wrap up the win, but Seattle’s Charles Renken hit a golazo to make it 4-3. Believe it or not, the team that raced out to a 3-0 lead hung on for dear life in the final minutes, but they grabbed the win, snapping a three-game losing streak in league play and returning from the long bye with an important three points.
The shootout wasn’t quite as happy for Galaxy II this weekend, however, as they lost to NorCal rivals Sacramento Republic 3-2. Like Orange County, Sacramento zoomed out to a 3-0 lead inside 20 minutes, while LA rallied in the second half, with goals from Justin Dhillon and Adrian Vera, but came up short.
An agonizing moment in hindsight for Los Dos came in the first half, as they were awarded a penalty, but Adonis Amaya’s attempt was blocked by Evan Newton. Obviously one can’t easily predict how the game state would have changed, but on the face of it, LA would have completed the comeback and earned a point if they had notched that goal plus the two subsequent goals.
One player who did play well in spite of the scoreline: Galaxy II goalkeeper Eric Lopez. The teenager, who is getting his first run in the pro ranks, may have let in three goals, but he nearly saved Sacramento’s penalty and made several other key stops to prevent the game from getting out of hand. It’s small consolation in one game, but for development purposes it was a good performance for the youngster.
The results this weekend flip the SoCal teams’ positions in the Western Conference standings, with Orange County leapfrogging Galaxy II to move into 13th place. LA have a lot of work to do over the second half of the season to get back into playoff contention, while OC do too, but have several games in hand over the rest of the West and so their road is somewhat easier, as long as they pick up the points in those games in hand.