Orange County SC fans got their first chance to see their team in action on the pitch on Tuesday night, and the club did not disappoint, walking away with a 5-1 victory. Although their opponent was an U20 team from Mexico, OC looked solid in just their second match together.
Orange County SC fielded a strong starting 11, with Aaron Cervantes in goal, Joe Amico, Kevin Alston, and Walker Hume in defense, Charlie Adams, Christian Duke, and Aodhan Quinn in the midfield, Darwin Jones on the wing, and Michael Seaton up top. The 2 other players in the starting lineup were trialists, one on defense, and the other on the left wing.
Orange County opened up the scoring for the match in the 5th minute when Jones sent a cross in from the right wing that somehow found it’s way in the back of the net. Tijuana answered back quickly in the 6th minute when OC keeper Cervantes hesitated slightly on a one-on-one against the Tijuana forward, which was just enough for the forward to sneak past Cervantes and shoot on an open goal.
Shortly after, Orange County had some opportunities to take back the lead, but both Quinn and Seaton were denied goals by the Tijuana keeper. Seaton was finally able to get on the board in the 20th minute after he was successful on a penalty kick that was awarded after he was taken down in the box. The rest of the first half was uneventful, and the teams went into the locker rooms at 2-1.
In the second half, Orange County rotated much of their side, bringing in a lot of players on trial, along with Kontor Awusu-Ansah in defense, Sebastian Des Pres in the midfield, and Gio Godoy and Connor Gordon up top. Fans could definitely see the difference in quality between the squad that started the first half versus the second, but County was still in control, except for a penalty that was given to Tijuana after a player was taken down in the box. Luckily for OC, the PK hit the crossbar, came back to the kick taker, who took a second shot that was blocked on a great save by the OC keeper.
After the missed penalty by Tijuana, OC took control. Harry Forrester entered the match for his first minutes with the team, and showed some good leadership on the pitch, communicating with his teammates. Another newcomer this season, Des Pres, made a great cross that landed right at the feet of newcomer Connor Gordon. His attempt was denied by the Tijuana keeper, but the ball bounced right to Godoy who put it in the back of the net. Godoy would get his second goal shortly after. To top off the night, newcomer Forrester had a goal late in the match to finish the scoring, with OC victorious 5-1.
It was a solid pre-season performance for Orange County, as they continue to work in preparation for the start of the season on March 9. The returning players look like they are in sync, and the newcomers are looking like they will fit in quite well.
The fans who showed up at Championship Soccer Stadium were treated with plenty of goals on the cold evening. It was a surprisingly good turnout for a Tuesday evening pre-season friendly, with about 800-1000 fans attending the match.
Next on the schedule for Orange County is a friendly against UC San Diego on Saturday at the Great Park Soccer Complex.