Photo courtesy Charis Wilson / Seattle Sounders FC 2
TUKWILA, Wash. – A pair of first-half goals earned Orange County SC a 2-1 victory against Seattle Sounders FC 2 at Starfire Stadium on Sunday afternoon to close the gap on the teams in the top eight in the Western Conference standings. A defensive turnover by S2 offered Orange County the first look at goal in the second minute, but Wuilito Fernandes’ shot was comfortably saved. The hosts then threatened more seriously, with David Olsen forcing a good low save by OCSC goalkeeper Charlie Lyon 10 minutes later, and Zach Mathers having a chance blocked soon after. Orange County took the lead in the 16th minute, however, as Fernandes was found in space on the left side of the penalty area by Gustavo Villalobos and put home a shot just inside the right post. Villalobos almost made it two moments later, only for his shot to be tipped onto the left post by S2 goalkeeper Bryan Meredith. Seattle leveled on then half-hour mark as David Olsen headed home a long throw-in by Irvin Parra, who then went close himself as his shot just went wide of the left post a minute later. Orange County regained the lead eight minutes before halftime, however, as Roy Meeus’ deep cross from the left was knocked back across goal by Fernandes to allow Monday Etim to tap home. S2 came close to leveling again in the 68th minute when Charles Renken hit the right post from 12 yards, the rebound caroming into the grateful arms of Lyon, but while S2 had chances late to try and secure a point, the visitors held firm to secure a big three points on the road.
16’ – OC – Wuilito Fernandes (Gustavo Villalobos)
30’ – SEA – David Olsen (Irvin Parra)
37’ – OC – Monday Etim (Wuilito Fernandes)
Three Things That Matter:
1. With numerous games in hand on the teams above Orange County SC in the standings, the key in the second half of the season was to make sure it took advantage of the opportunity that handed them. With a big road victory on Sunday against one of the teams it is chasing for a place in the USL Cup Playoffs, OCSC took a big step forward after the late letdown that saw it only earn a draw at home against Phoenix Rising FC. With 18 games to go in the 12 remaining weeks of the regular season, the games are now going to start coming thick and fast for Head Coach Logan Pause’s side, with another important one coming next on Wednesday against Rio Grande Valley FC. A win there, though, would get OCSC right into the mix for the postseason.
2. The saying goes, goals change games, and in the case of Orange County’s two first-half goals, they couldn’t have come at a more timely moment in terms of the flow of the game. Both Wuilito Fernandes and Monday Etim found the net to put the visitors ahead when in the preceding minutes S2 had looked like it was gaining the upper hand in the contest. Instead, OCSC was able to keep its head in front, and stall the positive pressure the hosts had been applying at the other end.
3. While the game was a big one for Orange County as it looked to gain ground, it could certainly be looked at as an opportunity missed for S2 to bolster its position in the top eight in the Western Conference. Seattle did plenty right in the contest, and will be disappointed to not have taken at least a point given some of the chances it created, but as those efforts went begging, so did the side’s chances. With the four-game undefeated streak at Starfire Stadium now over the side must now face a Swope Park Rangers that is both on a six-game winning streak, and looking to complete a perfect trip to the Pacific Northwest on Thursday night. If S2 can upset the form book, its playoff hopes would take a sizeable boost.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Wuilito Fernandes, Orange County SC – Fernandes had a goal and assist to lead Orange County to victory, putting in a solid shift up front for the visitors.
Seattle Sounders FC 2 vs. Swope Park Rangers – July 20, 10:30 p.m. ET, Starfire Stadium
Orange County SC at Rio Grande Valley FC – July 19, 8 p.m. ET, H-E-B Park