It was a difficult weekend for the Southern California USL teams, as both Orange County SC and LA Galaxy II lost in regular season play.
Orange County SC had arguably the bigger game, a playoff “six-pointer” against OKC Energy FC at home in Orange County Great Park, but OC is now winless in three home games at their new stadium, and winless in seven overall, after losing 2-1 on Friday. For the second time this season, Alex Dixon opened the scoring for Energy FC against Orange County, and an own goal in the second half by Joe Franco doubled the visitors’ lead.
The game brightened a bit for Orange County with the addition of Carlos Alvarez off the bench. The midfielder, on loan from LAFC for the season, had been sidelined for several weeks with an injury, and the attack had clearly suffered in his absence. After he joined the fray, OC scored to cut the deficit in half, courtesy of a tally from Jerry van Ewijk.
But even though Alvarez had two good looks on goal himself, he lacked a bit of the match sharpness to get the shots on target, and Orange County could not find a dramatic draw again this week. The result does considerable harm to their playoff hopes — while they still have plenty of games to play and still a game or two on hand against most of the rest of the Western Conference, the potential advantage they carried with more games on hand has been all but wiped away and they’ll have to improve results and hope for some luck against their competitors for the postseason if they are to get back into the playoff spots in time.
LA Galaxy II may not truly be in the playoff chase at this point in the season, and a 2-1 loss against Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 in British Columbia on Sunday helped put their flickering hopes further out of reach. Both teams are stuck near the bottom of the Western Conference, with Vancouver getting a measure of consolation from the win in drawing level with LA on points, while Galaxy II’s efforts to rally their way into contention took a big hit.
Vancouver scored just four minutes in, courtesy of a wicked shot from Terran Campbell. But Galaxy II got back into the game, with Ethan Zubak scoring in the 24th minute and drawing raves, alongside LA goalkeeper Eric Lopez, throughout the match.
It looked as though the teams were destined to tie until Vancouver’s Gloire Amanda hit a total blast in the final 10 minutes to take the lead. Truthfully, it appeared Galaxy II’s defense did not really take the threat of Amanda inside the box seriously, and was slow to step to him, giving him the space he needed. It’s a breakdown that those who have watched Galaxy II all season have seen time and again.
LA next hit the field against Rio Grande Valley FC, on Sunday at home, while Orange County host Reno 1868 FC on Saturday in their latest bid to stop their slump and get some forward momentum for the playoff race.