The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Orange County SC Self-Destructs

Tulsa Roughnecks FC midfielder Rodrigo da Costa focuses on the ball in Tulsa’s 5-3 victory against Orange County SC | Photo courtesy of Orange County SC

Tulsa Roughnecks FC midfielder Rodrigo da Costa focuses on the ball in Tulsa’s 5-3 victory against Orange County SC | Photo courtesy of Orange County SC

After barely escaping Reno with a point in the opening match of the season, many expected a focused Orange County SC team to take care of business against a Tulsa Roughnecks FC team that posed absolutely zero threat to OC in 2018, myself included. Unfortunately, the visitors from Oklahoma withstood some early blows, and unleashed a early season barrage of goals take the full 3 points, and damage Orange County’s early season confidence.

There is no doubt that the coaching staff will be reviewing game tape to find the few bright spots in the match, and to figure out what needs to change. Fans will have to wait a few days to see how the club responds to the disappointing start to the season. For now, let’s take a look back at the match, and discussed the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Good - The first 45 minutes

For the first 44 minutes of the match, Orange County looked like the dominant team on the pitch. In all honesty, they looked like the only team on the pitch. Even coach Braeden Cloutier, when asked after the match, thought so. “For 44 minutes, there was only one team on the field”. Orange County was in control in the first half, kept the pressure on Tulsa, and looked like the team many expected to see this season.

They jumped on the score sheet early on when Kevin Alston got his foot on a Darwin Jones cross to lift the ball over Tulsa keeper Sean Lewis in the 13th minute. They got a second goal when Giovanni Godoy was taken down in the penalty box in the 45th minute, which allowed Aodhan Quinn the opportunity to score on the penalty, putting Orange County up 2-0 with halftime coming up. Unfortunately for Orange County, things went downhill for the remainder of the match, which I will discuss later on.

The Bad - Carlos Lopez

Entering the season, defense and goal keepers have been the biggest concern for Orange County, especially with the fact that they consider themselves championship contenders. I even questioned it prior to the opener in Reno. Orange County was able to escape Nevada with a point, even though there were some questionable decisions by rookie keeper Carlos Lopez, but his performance didn’t instill confidence in the fans.

If his first game was just okay, his second game was a nightmare. His biggest blunder of the match came in the 54th minute when he came out of goal to try and make a clearance on a tightly contested play. Instead of the clearance, Lopez’s kick rebounded off a Tulsa player, and Tulsa’s Janú Silva won a footrace against Walker Hume for the their equalizing 2nd goal.

On Tulsa’s final goal of the match, Lopez was again out of position, as he was busy raising his hand in hopes that the line judge would rule Fabián Bastidas off-side. When the judge didn’t raise his flag, Lopez was in no-man’s land, as his opportunity to rush the attacker was lost in the second or so he was distracted by the possible call.

With his poor performance, many will ask for Aaron Cervantes to get an opportunity between the posts, or will be hoping for a signing by the club during the week to help strengthen the team’s weakest position. If neither of those 2 things happen between now and Saturday, fans could be in for a nervous night against New Mexico United.

The Ugly - 5 unanswered goals

Regardless of the play of Lopez between the posts, the second half for the Orange County defense let the team down. There is absolutely no way a team that hopes to lift the USL Cup at the end of the season should be giving up 5 unanswered goals, even against the top competition. But that is exactly what happened on Saturday night at Championship Soccer Stadium. The performance was disappointing not only to the fans, but to the coaching staff.

When I spoke to coach Cloutier after the match, he said that he had never seen anything like this in his time with the club. “We looked like boys. It was like youth soccer”, a frustrated Cloutier said after the match. “(It’s) the first time in my 5 years at this club I’ve seen something like that. It’s going to get sorted out really quick.”

Just before halftime, Orange County defender Hume was called for a hand ball in the penalty box, which opened the scoring up for Tulsa. Although many fans at the stadium were frustrated with the call, it was probably correct (the angle on the ESPN+ stream isn’t the best). Hume was leaning to his left as a shot came in, and the ball ricocheted off his arm. The penalty was converted by Tulsa’s Christian Altamirano.

Although Lopez had a very poor match, the defense also struggled through much of the second half. On the 3rd goal of the match, Tulsa’s Luca Lobo was left unmarked on a free kick, and although Lopez was able to block the shot, neither he nor his defense were able to control the rebound, and Lobo tapped in the easy attempt.

On the 4th goal, Orange County again left Lobo unmarked, this time on a corner kick. The Tulsa defender was again able to get a clean header toward goal, but this time, it was out of reach of the Orange County keeper, who could only watch the ball sail into the top right corner.

It is unacceptable for a team with the quality of players that Orange County has to have given up 5 unanswered goals at home. Something will have to change, as the club has looked shaky in the first 2 matches of the season. Hopefully the result against Tulsa will motivate the club to come out strong, and focused for a full 90 minutes against New Mexico.

Do you agree with our picks for the good, the bad, and the ugly? Share your thoughts in the comments below.