Stalemate: Part II

Orange County FC unable to find the breakthrough in a tough match against FC Arizona

The 2017 NPSL season has been exciting so far for newcomers OCFC and FC Arizona but there was more excitement going into the showdown on Saturday night as both teams were unbeaten.

The first meeting between the two teams ended in a scoreless draw in the desert back in March. The second meeting ended in a 0-0 tie as well but OCFC head coach Paul Caligiuri was quick to notice the differences between the two matches.

“We performed better against FC Arizona this time in comparison to the time we played them in Mesa,” said Caligiuri.

“In order to be successful, we definitely had to focus on the final third of the field. Particularly in the box with that final touch, pass, and shot. It just didn’t happen for us tonight.”

A lot of the match was a back-and-forth affair as both teams clamped down to play tight defense.

“We defend as a unit and the back four have been amazing all year,” said assistant coach and goalkeeper Andrew Weber. “We have a deep squad and everyone is fighting for a place on the team.”

The OCFC fans and the I-5 Army were hoping to erupt in joy for a goal but it never came. In the second half OCFC dodged a bullet when Costa Rican international Alejandro Aguilar beat keeper Brandon Gomez but his shot bounced off the near post.

Minutes later OCFC midfielder Connor Gordon thought he had given the home side the lead but his curving shot rattled the outside of their post. It was a game of defense that finished in a scoreless draw and the fans were excited to see defenders Erik Mueller and Daniel Yo return to the starting lineup.

Mueller was a game time decision after sitting out last week against Riverside but after three minutes he had to be subbed off. His replacement, Alexander Ferreira, played an excellent game at right back by disrupting the passing lanes and frustrating the Arizona forwards. Ferreria’s efforts earned him man of the match honors.

Although OCFC were unable to get the win against Arizona,the players on the squad are still feeling good about finishing in the top two positions of the Southwest.

“We feel good about the rest of the reason,” said striker Jose Montes de Oca. “There is a long way to go and we will be there eventually at one of the top two positions. Trust me.”

Is a third meeting with FC Arizona in the postseason on the horizon?

“I hope,” said midfielder Armando Flores. “It’s a good test for us, it’s always going to be a good game, and I think we will figure them outfit we play them again.”

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