Orange County FC forward Blake Frischknecht has been a clutch performer in 2019.
He won the first NPSL National Player of the Week award of the season on May 9th. The honor came after a three-goal, one-assist performance against City of Angels FC on May 4th. Then he was the hero in an epic U.S. Open Cup match against Las Vegas Lights FC, scoring the game-winner in the 89th minute to move OCFC to a Fourth Round matchup with the LA Galaxy.
This success should come as no surprise to anyone who has seen Frischknecht play. He’s a special player and a special talent.
The Las Vegas, NV native led Utah Valley University with six goals and 13 points in 2018, playing in all 18 matches and starting 16. He was also named to the All-WAC Second Team and the All-Far West Region Third Team that same year.
Simply put, Frischknecht is a proven goalscorer who can be counted on in the biggest moments. And Wednesday’s match against the Galaxy certainly is a big moment.
“We’re looking forward to playing the LA Galaxy because for any kid growing up a soccer player or fan here in the U.S. you know that the LA Galaxy is one of the best clubs in MLS history,” Frischknecht said. “They have won many trophies and have signed big names so to get the chance to step on the field and play against a club you’ve followed since you were a young kid is a great opportunity.”
When asked if this was the biggest game in an already illustrious career, Frischknecht had a clear answer.
“Yes, 100%,” Frischknecht said. “This is the biggest game of my career. I have never been able to step on the field and play against an MLS side so to do so in a U.S. Open Cup is special.”
The opportunity to play against a team of worldly superstars is certainly special, but OCFC has a talented roster of their own.
“Our goalkeeper David Preys has been money,” Frischknecht said. “I call him ‘Big Save Dave.’ Our back line has been able to step up and defend pro strikers. Center back Ryan Holland scored a clutch goal for us in stoppage time against OCSC. Left back Aaron Lombardi has consistently shut down wingers and sparked the attack for us on the left wing. Center midfielder Cody Shelton and wing forward Dakota Collins have scored multiple goals for us and have been the experienced leaders that we need. It really has been a team effort. These guys are studs.”
This is no average team and that is why OCFC have not had an average journey in the Open Cup.
“This year’s Open Cup journey for us has been absolutely incredible,” Frischknecht said. “We came into the tournament with the hopes of making a memorable run and we have done just that.”
The journey has seen Orange County FC defeat the likes of FC Golden State Force, Orange County SC, and Las Vegas Lights FC along the way. Each game was incredibly entertaining, a memory in the making for fans of OCFC and the U.S. Open Cup.
It’s also created great memories for Frischknecht.
“I’ll remember many things about this Open Cup,” Frischknecht said. “I’ll remember being able to come into a team of guys that I had never met previously and establish quality friendships with the players and coaching staff. I’ll remember the feeling of beating two professional sides. I’ll remember being able to go home to Las Vegas and score a game-winner in front of my friends and family. It’s been a tournament I will never forget and I’ll be sure to keep some newspaper clippings or write it down in a journal.”
There’s been a lot of special moments in OCFC’s incredible run, but going up against the pros has been something to remember.
“Beating two professional teams has been incredible,” Frischknecht said. “For us, we have the belief that many of us can be playing on these professional sides so we have the motivation to try and stick it to them and show what we are capable of. We have nothing to lose so we go at them with everything we’ve got and we’ve been successful.”
The success has put Orange County FC on the map and the exposure and brand awareness is unlike anything the organization has ever seen.
“The Open Cup has provided myself and OCFC with exposure because we’ve been given the opportunity to play against these pro sides on ESPN+ and our results are shown all over social media,” Frischknecht said. “We have a great team filled with talent and that’s all come together at the perfect time to show the nation what we are capable of. Some of us are looking for the chance to play at the next level and I feel like we have shown we deserve that chance. Our paths might not be typical to what most professional soccer players have experienced but that does not mean our talent is not there. America is a massive country with so many soccer players. Some of us have fallen through the cracks but the Open Cup has helped us show America what we are capable of.”
What are Orange County capable of? For starters, they are well on their way to becoming the next legendary team of the U.S. Open Cup. They are a team that will very likely be talked about for years to come.
“OCFC has been able to reach success in this years Open Cup because each player on our squad is all in,” Frischknecht said. “We have been able to come together as friends and teammates and compete at a high level without anything holding us back. We haven’t been the favorite in any of the games we have played in the Open Cup so we have felt zero pressure. We’ve been able to capitalize on our opportunities and fight to win these games. It’s been a dream.”
And that dream continues Wednesday night against the LA Galaxy.
Photo Credit: Glenn Feingerts/Orange County FC