It was a weekend of set pieces for local USL teams, as all of the goals (and a key non-goal) came off dead ball situations, and in the end the Orange County Blues beat Real Monarchs 1-0 at home, while LA Galaxy II could not hold onto a road lead and tied Tulsa Roughnecks 2-2.
The Blues hosted Real Monarchs on Saturday night, looking for a win, and got the job done, as Roy Meeus converted a first-half penalty kick to give Orange County the 1-0 lead. With Monarchs defender Chris Schuler picking up a red card midway through the second half, it seemed like the Blues would grab the crucial insurance tally and ice the result.
But it didn’t turn out like that, as Real Monarchs picked up a penalty of their own in the final 10 minutes. Ricardo Velazco, who has been one of the better players in the league this season, stepped up and missed the goal altogether, and the Blues rode out the final minutes to take all three points.
They’ve now got a somewhat short turnaround, as they will be traveling to Texas to take on San Antonio FC on Thursday night, looking to get another win to vault up the Western Conference standings.
Meanwhile, LA Galaxy II played in the marquee Friday night game against Tulsa, and once again were undone by an inability to hold on for the win. Set pieces were the order of the night in this game, too, as defender Jefrey Payeras opened the scoring for LA with a diving header off a corner kick early in the first half, before Jack McBean scored on a direct free kick just outside the box later on in the half to give Galaxy II the 2-0 lead. Even though Los Dos were on the road, considering the Roughnecks’ status as the worst team in the Western Conference, it seemed like a win was in the offing.
But Tulsa clawed their way back to a point, as first Sammy Ochoa converted a penalty just before halftime and LA goalkeeper Bennett Sneddon was credited with an own goal just after the break, after he flubbed a corner kick and put the ball in his own net. While a point on the road is never a bad thing, it caused the Galaxy II to lose some momentum atop the conference, as they now sit five points back of leaders Vancouver.
By a quirk in the scheduling, LA and Tulsa will face off again in the Friday night match-up, this time at the StubHub Center’s Track and Field Stadium. Again, Tulsa is the worst team in the conference, so three points really feel like a must for LA, but we’ll see come game time.