Photo courtesy Liza Rosales / Orange County SC
IRVINE, Calif. – OKC Energy FC took a 2-1 victory against Orange County SC on Friday night at Champions Soccer Stadium on Friday night to bolster its prospects of reaching the 2017 USL Cup Playoffs by defeating one of its closest challengers. Energy FC created the first chance in the sixth minute as Jose Angulo wasn’t able to make clean contact on Anthony Wallace’s cross from the right with a header, but Miguel Gonzalez tested Orange County goalkeeper Charlie Lyon 15 minutes later with a good shot from 20 yards after a good build-up at the top of the penalty area. Energy FC took the lead 10 minutes before the halftime break, however, as Richard Dixon played in Alex Dixon for a well-taken finish into the left corner of the net. Orange County’s Frank Olijve had a shot deflected wide five minutes later, and from the ensuing corner a header by Wuilito Fernandes was cleared off the line by OKC’s Jose Barril. Energy FC’s Gonzalez went close again in the final minute of the first half as Lyon again saved well, while Richard Dixon’s back-post cross from the right almost connected again with Alex Dixon early in the second half. Energy FC doubled its lead on an own goal by Joe Franco in the 52nd minute, but Orange County pulled within a goal again 13 minutes later as a good combination by Jerry van Ewijk and Wuilito Fernandes sent in Dutch midfielder Van Ewijk for a low finish to the right corner. Energy FC threatened to restore its two-goal lead as Gonzalez curled a shot just wide with seven minutes to go, while Orange County’s Carlos Alvarez missed the target in stoppage time as the hosts sought an equalizer. Energy FC closed out the win, though, to pick up victory in the playoff six-pointer.
35’ – OKC – Alex Dixon (Richard Dixon)
52’ – OKC – Joe Franco (own goal)
65’ – OC – Jerry van Ewijk (Wuilito Fernandes)
Three Things That Matter:
1. Given the circumstances, there was real pressure on OKC Energy FC to produce a strong road performance to put some space between itself and both Orange County and the other teams below it in the USL Western Conference standings. Thanks to a second stellar display by Alex Dixon against OCSC this season, Energy FC got the victory it needed. Dixon scored the only goal when the teams met for the first time this season, and both scored and played the decisive ball for the own goal that ended up proving the game-winner to lead his side to victory.
2. As well as Alex Dixon played for Energy FC, the team’s overall performance was a positive one away from home, and one that in the long run could be looked at as vital should OKC advance to the 2017 USL Cup Playoffs. Energy FC recorded more total shots, more shots on goal, and took advantage of the space Orange County afforded its visitors when OKC looked to take the air out of the game late. With another big road test next weekend against the Swope Park Rangers up next, Energy FC should carry some good confidence forward.
3. With a big opportunity to overtake the side holding the final place in the postseason positions in the Western Conference, Orange County’s display was a disappointing one. The hosts didn’t record a shot on goal in the opening 40 minutes, and while Jerry van Ewijk’s goal with 25 minutes to go was a great moment, there weren’t enough of those instances for OCSC to realistically claim something from this contest. With two points from three games in its current homestand, Orange County next faces the challenge of hosting Reno 1868 FC next Saturday night, a daunting test for any side, let alone one that will now not register a win in August.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Alex Dixon, OKC Energy FC – Dixon scored the opening goal, and made good off-the-ball movement in addition to linking up with his attacking teammates to earn a major road victory.
Orange County SC vs. Reno 1868 FC – September 2, 10:30 p.m. ET, Champions Soccer Stadium
OKC Energy FC at Swope Park Rangers – September 2, 8:30 p.m. ET, Children’s Mercy Victory Field