Irvine, Calif. 6/27/19 - Orange County SC provided local soccer fans some Thursday night entertainment as they welcomed Liga MX side Club Tijuana for a mid-season friendly. The match was tight throughout, with OC playing a pretty even match against the top flight side, but in the end, the home team fell just short, losing 0-1.
Orange County held their ground from the beginning of the first half getting a few opportunities while limiting Tijuana in theirs. Just a couple minutes into the match, Darwin Jones had an opportunity to set up his teammates as he skied a cross in from the right side, but the ball landed right in front of Tijuana goalkeeper Gibran Lajud. A few minutes later, Jones was the recipient of a cross from Jerry van Wolfgang, but was unable to get a clean kick on the ball, giving Lajud an easy save. Shortly after that, the roles between the OC men were reversed, but the outcome remained the same.
In the 15th minute, Tijuana had their first dangerous opportunity as they found a hole in the OC defense on a pass that probably would have led to a goal if not for a tackle by Hugo Arellano that was called a penalty. The penalty was converted by Gustavo Bou, putting the visitors up 1-0.
In the 21st minute, Orange County’s Kevin Coleman pounced on a loose ball in front of the Tijuana keeper and put it in the back of the net, but as soon as the celebration began,the side judge lifted his flag for offside, waving off the equalizer. In the 30th minute, Vinicius pressured Lajud to win the ball with an opportunity to score, but was called for a foul, eliminating the opportunity.
Tijuana had an opportunity for a second goal just before halftime, when a cross was sent into the box, but it was just out of reach of Ariel Nahuelpan. Arellano was able to clear it away before it could become any more dangerous. Orange County answered back with what may have been their best opportunity of the first half, as Lajud challenged Darwin Jones outside of the box leaving the Tijuana goal exposed, and when Jones’ cross couldn’t find a teammate’s head, the ball fell to the feet of new signee Edson Alvarado just outside the box, but his shot went wide, leaving Orange County down 0-1 heading into halftime.
When the teams took the field in the second half, Orange County only had one starter remaining, Kevin Coleman. Two players that took the pitch were U-23 players (Victor Onofre & Joseph Perez) while a third, Jose Flores, was on trial. On the other side of the field, Tijuana kept all their starters.
The second half continued where the first half ended, with both teams taking their opportunities when they came, with no results. Tijuana’s Washington Camacho had an opportunity with a shot on goal in the 53rd minute, but it was an easy save for OC keeper Carlos Lopez. Michael Seaton took an opportunity from about 45 yards out that deflected off a Tijuana player, making the save slightly more difficult for Lajud, but was still an easy enough save to not pose much of a threat.
Orange County’s best chance at an equalizer came in the 87th minute when, after a good run of play, Koji Hashimoto sent a cross in from the left side of the box that eventually ended up about 10 yards from goal. Connor Gordon, who had replaced Kevin Coleman earlier in the half, got solid contact on the ball with his head, but the ball was cleared by the Tijuana defense before threatening the keeper.
In the end, Orange County fought hard against the quality side from Mexico. They limited Tijuana in their opportunities, showed a much more composed defense, and pushed the ball further up the field that they had in recent matches. Coach Braeden Cloutier shared his thoughts on the match, stating that “I thought we played with more urgency… at the right moments we countered and we transitioned really well.” He also praised his team’s work on their transition defense leading up to the match, and was happy that they limited Tijuana’s counter attacks.
Orange County will look to build momentum from this match as they host rivals LA Galaxy II on Saturday at Championship Soccer Stadium, with kickoff at 5:30pm. Recent arrival Michael Orozco hopes to “get three points for the fans” in his first competitive action with the team.