The Lamar Hunt US Open Cup can be a real surprise when it comes to upstart teams like the PDL’s FC Golden State Force but the USL’s oldest club on the West Coast, the newly labelled Orange County Soccer Club was dominant winning 5-2 in the Second Round at Citrus College in Glendora, Calif.
The win brings an end to a four-game winless streak for Orange County in the tournament. The last Open Cup win for Orange County came in 2013 when they defeated the PDL’s Ventura County Fusion in Round 2. After dropping a 2-1 decision to Chivas USA (MLS), they went on to lose three consecutive opening round games to amateur teams (Fresno Fuego, PSA Elite, LA Wolves FC).
Orange County opened the scoring with two fairly easy goals in the first 15 minutes from Victor Pineda and Monday Etim. Golden State kept fighting on and an attacking run in the 20th minute ended up on a wayward hand of an Orange County defender in the penalty area sending Mark Verso to the spot for a penalty that halved the deficit.
This was quickly voided by an Orange County attacking free kick in the 25th minute which hit a hand in the wall giving Orange County’s Dutch forward Jerry van Ewijk a converted penalty kick for the visitors to make it 3-1.
Pineda almost scored again right before the break with a 30-yard screamer that hit the center of the crossbar and bounced mere inches from being a fourth goal.
Orange County’s Cabo Verdean international Wuilito Fernandes scored an early goal 15 seconds after the second-half kickoff, and Verso responded in kind a minute later. Eventually play slowed down until a string of Orange County passes sent Etim to the right hand attacking corner flag putting in a cross that perfectly landed at the feet of Fernandes to finish the scoring for the night at the 55th minute.
The tempo of the rest of the game slowed down significantly and a lot of fouls were committed with the referee reaching for her pocket more often than would be expected for a game with a three-goal margin. It culminated in the 71st minute with a deliberate foul committed by Verso which landed him a yellow card. After the referee awarded a foul to Orange County, defender Saloman Wbias appeared to retaliate towards Verso as he was walking away from the site of the foul in the middle of the field. The referee without hesitation sent off Wbias, and despite Orange County playing the remainder of the game with 10 men, Golden State could not find another tally.
After the match Fernandes praised his teammates heart, discipline and work rate and was impressed by the creativity of their lower division opposition. Also despite Orange County Coach Logan Pause saying that early Cup games can sometimes be the hardest, that the team “came with the right mentality”.
FC Golden State Force Assistant Coach Salvador Moran was impressed with his charges especially their relentless attack while they had a man advantage towards the end. However despite having nothing to lose, he noted their professional USL opposition capitalized on their shortcomings.
Orange County will take on host LA Wolves in the Third Round, a team that knocked them out of their first cup match last year. The winner will take on the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer in Carson, Calif.