Survive and advance. That’s all you want to do when you reach the postseason, and that is exactly what Orange County SC did this past weekend at home. Facing off against El Paso Locomotive FC in the opening round of the USL Championship Playoffs, the Orange took care of business in a match that was close on the scoreboard, but one they were in control of for the most part.
LET’S DO IT AGAIN NEXT WEEK 🔥
Next stop, Western Conference Semifinals back at The Champ 7pm Oct. 28! pic.twitter.com/2yw2rYUPuH
— x – Orange County SC (@orangecountysc) October 22, 2023
Home field played the advantage for Orange County, who were up against a side that had also looked to be peaking at just the right time. However, they didn’t have a prolific goal scorer like Milan Iloski on their side. “It’s an electric atmosphere here. Football is a team game, and I think that means more than the 11 players in the squad it means everyone who cares about Orange County and to see so many people turn up and create the electric atmosphere tonight, it just pushed us that extra yard” said OCSC defender Markus Nakkim after the match. “I think it was an incredible experience for the team and we’re just excited to go on and hopefully get another star over the badge.”
While the 1-0 win may look close on the scoreboard, Orange County controlled most of the match from the off. The team kept 56% of the possession and put together 14 shots with six finding the target. The visitors, only mustered four shots, without finding the target.
The stage is set, and the rivalry continues 👊
— x – Orange County SC (@orangecountysc) October 23, 2023
With the win the team advance to the Western Conference semifinals where they will meet a familiar foe in Phoenix Rising FC. The rivals will luckily have to travel to Irvine and beat Orange County in their house if they want to advance. The visitors toppled San Diego Loyal in their first round matchup, winning a thrilling match 4-3, with the eventual winning goal coming in extra time.
OCSC have yet to beat the Rising this season. The visitors won the last time they came to Irvine, 0-1, in May, while Orange County couldn’t hang on to the lead on the road and Phoenix snatched a late equalizer to split the points. If there was ever the time to get over this hump, it’s obviously now. “We will prepare accordingly like we’ve been doing the whole season it’s going to be the same thing that we do and then maybe a little bit more extra details into specific things” said Orange County SC Interim Head Coach Morten Karlsen after the win.
Orange County look to lock in a spot in the Finals with a win, Saturday October 28th. The match is set to kickoff at 7pm PT from Championship Soccer Stadium in Irvine, CA. The action will be broadcast live on ESPN+.
Thoughts ahead of the semifinals matchup? Leave a comment below!