Two Orange County goals in the second half Wednesday sealed the win against San Diego Loyal in USL Championship league soccer play at USD’s Torero Stadium.
Sean Okoli scored in the 65th minute off a counterattack and Oadhan Quinn closed out the scoring with a long-range shot in the 84th minute of the Group B match.
Orange County’s first score came when Okoli sped upfield with one defender to beat, cut back and then fired a right-footed shot to beat Loyal goalkeeper Jake Fenlason.
The Orange County score came after Loyal spent most of the early second half pressuring the visitors on their own territory. But a quick play that had Orange County clear from its side of the pitch led to Okoli’s sprint up field with the ball.
Quinn added the second goal of the night with a left-footed blast from about 25 yards out. He was set up with a short pass backwards by Edson Alvarado. The play came in a similar fashion as Loyal (3-2-2, 11 points) moved its lines up to attack.
Orange County SC (2-0-2, 8 points) took advantage and countered again.
Both scoring plays were a change of momentum at key moments of the match in which Loyal had chances to convert. San Diego came out looking to attack early on. Coach Landon Donovan’s team began to attack from the right side of the pitch with Jack Metcalf sending constant crosses into the penalty area.
Those passes nearly paid off in the first half. Tumi Moshobane had the Loyal’s first dangerous play with a header off one of those Metcalf crosses. Moshobane’s shot was blocked by Orange County goalkeeper Frederik Due.
Metcalf sent another cross a few moments later. This time, it was Carlos Alvarez who sent a left-footed blast on a one-timer but Due was there to make the save.
“We can’t play much better, but we need to score we talked about it last week,” Donovan said. “We need to be more direct. We were much more vertical and we created a ton of chances. Now we just got to take pressure off our back line by burying teams.”
He said the score should have been 2-0, maybe 3-0 or maybe even 3-1 at halftime.
“And when a team sticks around, they were fortunate they got a flick off of Carlos’ (Alvarez) head and went into a breakaway. That can happen. It’s frustrating, but we have to focus on our performance and we just got to keep going,” Donovan said.
If it wasn’t Metcalf helping to distribute balls from the right to Moshobane and Ben Spencer, it was Elijah Martin trying from the right with volleys and sometimes deciding to shoot. Martin tried a shot from the left side and it’s just off the mark and goes for a corner kick right before both teams went into the first mandated hydration break.
Loyal continued to move the ball up field early in the second half. Collin Martin sent a shot that was just saved by Due, redirecting it with his heel. SD Loyal out-shot Orange County SC 22-15 while keeping 63-percent of possession.
“We created chances tonight but we got to hit the net,” Donovan said. “It’s important just for confidence, for our players to hit the net and score.
“We need to have a little bit of vindictiveness,” he continued. “You just want to bury teams, so we’re doing everything right now. We’re progressing from building well, getting into the third half (of the field) well, creating chances and now the last piece is you got to hit the net to hurt teams.”
Donovan’s team was coming off a bus trip to Las Vegas last week. It was scheduled to face Las Vegas Lights but the match was postponed as a covered member of the hosts tested positive for COVID-19.
Donovan will now take his team to Arizona where it will face Phoenix Rising FC Saturday, Aug. 15, in a Group B matchup.