The midpoint of the 2018 season has arrived and Match Day 17 will see San Antonio FC head back to California for the fourth time this season as they will travel to face Orange County SC for the second time this season. Orange County continues to be one of the top teams in USL West this season. We once again caught up with Alicia Rodriguez (@soccermusings) of Angels on Parade (@angels_parade) to get the scoop on Orange County and all their success so far in 2018. Here we go into another edition of the Six Pointer Preview.
- 1 – It has been awhile since we last saw OC SC, going all the way back to mid-April. Catch us up on their season has gone and what has stood out since we last saw Y’all?
(AR) Orange County has dropped a bit off the pace they were on when the first met San Antonio this season. Instead of being at the top of the table, they are in the middle of the Western Conference playoff team pack. Overall, for the most part, OC has been pretty good, but they’ve struggled some against teams ahead of them in the standings, losing to Phoenix, Real Monarchs and Sacramento, while drawing Reno. So, I think it’s safe to say at this point they probably won’t be challenging for the No. 1 seed in the West, but in spite of that they are picking up more results than not, and are often playing good, interesting soccer while winning.
- 2 – Orange County seems to have a disproportionate goal differential for where they are in the standings. They are currently tied for the second strongest GD in all of USL of this writing, yet they only sit in 5th place in USL West currently. Surprised?
The goal difference comes from the fact that they have had several blowout wins and only two losses by more than one goal. It’s nice to see a lopsided goal difference in the positive direction, for sure, and I think Orange County have shown they can both win big and win narrowly. All in all, I think what it tells us is that the defense has really been strong and for the most part, win, lose or draw, is not conceding a lot, and that’s a good sign.
- 3 – Thomas Enevoldsen continues to be incredibly impressive. We saw him tally at Toyota Field in April and his nine goals are tied for first in all of USL. Tell us about his season and is he the favorite to win the Golden Boot?
Enevoldsen has been very impressive this season. Not only is he scoring, but he is also a forward capable of setting up his teammates and is comfortable sharing the load. That latter point may hurt his chances of winning the USL Golden Boot, but it probably helps his team more. I think the fact that so many teams are in USL and so many players are playing means that counting on a player winning the Golden Boot around the halfway point of the season is a fool’s errand, but Enevoldsen has been good, and on a team that has several potential MVP candidates, depending on how the rest of the season goes, he’s definitely in the mix.
- 4 – Andre Rawls also continues his magnificent season. As of this writing, he has 57 saves, good for third in all of USL, and he’s tied for third in USL with 7 clean sheets. Eyebrow-raising stats at both ends for this club. Tell us about Rawls’ year and what we can expect from the OC defense?
Rawls has been very good and OC are probably hoping he’ll be back soon, as he has missed the last two games due to an apparent injury picked up two weeks back in Phoenix. The backup, Casey Beyers, has been decent, playing well in a road win shutout against Colorado Springs but letting in three in a loss against LA Galaxy II, but I think it’s safe to say Rawls is a top ‘keeper in the league, and the faster he’s healthy and back in the lineup, the more likely Orange County will be even better.
The defense has made some changes lately, bringing in former Premier League defender Jos Hooiveld to join the formidable central defense corps of Thomas Juel-Nielsen, Walker Hume, and Alex Crognale, and signing MLS veteran Kevin Alston. The defense struggled against Galaxy II, and it was their most lopsided loss of the season to date. If that continues, then everything could fall apart, but considering how well they had been playing, I think it’s fair to give them the benefit of the doubt for now and expect they’ll bounce back soon enough.
- 5 – Only two losses for Orange County at home this season. Conversely, only one win for San Antonio on the road so far this season. Advantage OC? And what’s your prediction for the match?
I think Orange County should get the edge on paper, but considering the resurgence San Antonio has had of late, this will likely be a tough game. You’ll recall the previous meeting between these teams, OCSC ended up winning handily in the end, but the game was scoreless most of the way through and the result could have gone either way. Frankly, I think it’s going to go like that again, as far as it will be a tight, tense game and a moment of magic or a mistake or two will make the difference.
- 6 – What’s your prediction for where Orange County will finish this season, and how will their season end?
Predictions are tough, but I expect Orange County SC to reach the playoffs easily, but probably somewhere in the 3-6 seed. From there, what will happen? You just never know in the USL Cup playoffs.
San Antonio FC – W W L D D, 2018 Road Record 1-4-2
Orange County – D W L W L, 2018 Home Record 4-3-2
San Antonio FC – 22 points, GF 16, GA 17, GD – 1, 10TH in USL West
Orange County – 30 points, GF 29, GA 15, GD +14, 5TH in USL West
All-Time History (W-D-L)
San Antonio FC is 2-1-2 all-time vs Orange County, however in their current incarnation as Orange County SC, their record is a perfect split at 1-1-1. This match will tip the scale in someone’s favor.
4/14/18 @ SA OC 3, SA 0
7/14/18 @ OC
While the game was in the balance for most of the way, in the end, it proved to be a decisive win for Orange County last April at Toyota Field as they earned a 3-0 victory behind three second-half goals. Hasimoto broke open the scoring in the 48’, and Enevoldsen and Godoy sealed the match adding two more in the final ten minutes as San Antonio got burned pushing for an equalizer. It was the first time SAFC had ever given up 3 goals to Orange County. If you can bear to watch, the highlights are below.
The Matchup (W-D-L)
San Antonio FC (5-7-4) at Orange County SC (9-3-6) #OCvSA
Champions Soccer Stadium at OC Great Park
Kickoff 9:00 pm Central Time
Where to Watch: ESPN+
Key to victory
Neither team will be feeling great coming into this match. Orange County has lost two of three, including a very surprising 3-0 thumping at the hands of Los Dos in the battle of Los Angeles. They also recently lost a tough 1-0 decision to another of the top Western teams in Phoenix Rising.
San Antonio comes into this one having dropped 7 of their last 9 points after getting swept by Reno on the year and then consecutive draws against Colorado and OKC Energy.
This still seems like advantage OC for this one. Not only did they come into Toyota Field and push SAFC around earlier in the season, but they have been having a lot of success at both ends. Thomas Enevoldsen is tied for the league lead in goals and GK Andre Rawls is among the league leaders in saves and clean sheets. Add to that OC’s home record where they’ve only lost twice combined with San Antonio’s one road victory this season and on paper, this looks like a tough task for SAFC.
The good news is that Alex Bruce got back on the pitch and he promptly scored a big goal for the team. He has now scored goals in each of his last two USL appearances. The fact that he sat for three straight games in between the two doesn’t make much sense to us. Only Omar Gordon has as many league goals as Bruce’s three. No one has more. We can only hope he remains in the lineup going forward. Especially for a team struggling so badly to score, he has earned his spot.
And what will happen at GK? Last time out it was Matt Cardone making the unexpected start. To no surprise, he played pretty well. Was that merely Restrepo getting a night off or is this a signal of more lineup tinkering that has seemed to be ongoing the last few weeks? We’ll find out on Saturday, but they even split time again over the weekend.
Speaking of, we should mention that SAFC did pick up an impressive International Friendly win on the weekend over Liga MX Champions Santos Laguna. Of lesser consequence, as it relates to the USL season, Seth tallied his first ever goal for SAFC. Perhaps of more significance, Guzman got back on the scoresheet as well. Maybe that will kick-start his USL season. Either way, we’re not putting a ton of weight into a Friendly match, even one with an opponent of such stature.
One thing is for certain. San Antonio – already out of playoff position – can’t afford to keep dropping points at their recent rate if they hope to be playing in playoff matches this Fall. Unfortunately, this is an unlikely match for that to happen. We think it’ll be a season sweep for OC-SC.
San Antonio FC – 1
Orange County SC – 2
SAFC “Did You Know?”
San Antonio FC was beaten by OC earlier this year 3-0. In 2016, San Antonio put up their own three-spot in this series against the then Orange County Blues winning the June 23, 2016 match 3-2. San Antonio has never scored more than one goal vs the current Orange County SC.