OAKLAND, Calif. – For a second consecutive outing, Ben Mines provided the winner for Orange County SC as the visitors took a 1-0 victory against Oakland Roots SC on Saturday night at Laney Stadium to earn a season sweep of the four-game series between the Pacific Division sides.
Neither side was able to create much in the attacking third in the early going, but in the 21st minute Orange County was handed the chance to take the lead after Mines was brought down in the penalty area by Oakland’s Ariel Mbumba after a scrambling attack by the visitors. Dillon Powers stepped up to the spot, but his shot down the center was saved by Roots SC goalkeeper Paul Blanchette with his legs and the visitors couldn’t come up with a finish on the rebound.
Mines provided the breakthrough for Orange County in the 25th minute, however, as Ronaldo Damus broke onto a long ball upfield and carried possession into the left side of the penalty area. The Haitian international pulled the ball back across goal where Mines popped up to tuck home his third goal in as many games for the side with a low finish back into the left corner of the net.
Oakland tried to respond before the halftime break as Wal Fall had a shot from 25 yards that zipped past the left upright, while eight minutes into the second half the visitors almost added to their lead as Mines almost took advantage of a missed clearance by a Roots SC defender, controlling in the right side of the penalty area and cutting a pass back for Damus, whose shot went wide of the right post.
Roots SC was reduced to 10 men in the 54th minute, however, as Jose Hernandez was sent off after kicking out at Orange County’s Mikko Kuningas after the two had tussled for possession in midfield, and that saw more space open for the visitors as Oakland looked to level. In the 71st minute, Brian Iloski chased down a ball on the right and flicked a cross to Damus, who just mistimed a free header to send it over the crossbar. Oakland’s Blanchette then needed to make another good save to keep out a low shot by Eric Calvillo before the El Salvador international rattled the crossbar with a half-volley from 20 yards a minute later.
Calvillo threatened once more with 10 minutes to go as he fired a shot from the right side of the penalty area at a narrow angle just over the crossbar, and then again in stoppage time from the top-right edge of the penalty area. Oakland almost found a remarkable late equalizer as Blanchette delivered a header on target from a late corner kick only to be denied by Orange County’s Brent Richards, who cleared off the goal line, but the visitors held on for another three points toward their playoff drive.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Eric Calvillo, Orange County SC – The El Salvador international was consistently dynamic in midfield, completing 26 of 29 passes and recording four shots, one of which hit the woodwork, while winning two tackles and making three interceptions.
OC – Ben Mines (Ronaldo Damus) 25’