IRVINE, Calif. – Chris Cortez recorded a goal and assist as Arizona United SC took a 3-1 win against Orange County Blues FC on Sunday night at Anteater Stadium. Arizona made the better start to the game, but Gevorg Karapetyan opened the scoring for the Blues with his first goal for the club as he shot home after a good pass by Mats Bjurman in the 28th minute. United came close to equalizing 10 minutes later when Chris Cortez headed against the crossbar against his former team, and then Luke Rooney had a shot cleared off the line moments later. Three minutes before the break, though, Long Tan scored the equalizer with a chipped finish to the left corner of the net. Cortez then gave United the lead nine minutes into the second half with a perfect left-footed free kick from 20 yards, but the Blues almost hit back eight minutes later as Bjurman had a good low shot saved by United goalkeeper Carl Woszczynski, and the rebound from Richard Chaplow hit the post. United wrapped up the win with four minutes to go, however, as Tyler Blackwood tucked away the rebound of a shot by Cortez to move Arizona within a point of the eighth and final playoff position.
28’ – OC – Gevorg Karapetyan (Mats Bjurman)
42’ – AZ – Long Tan (Luke Rooney)
54’ – AZ – Chris Cortez
86’ – AZ – Tyler Blackwood (Chris Cortez)
Three Things That Matter:
1. Sunday offered both teams the chance to earn a second win in a week, which in a race as close as the Western Conference’s would be a massive boost for either, and it was Arizona that came out on top to take the three points, and move within a point of eighth-place Orange County in the standings. Coming from behind for a second consecutive game, Chris Cortez’s goal and assist led the way, and gave Arizona more positive momentum ahead of next Saturday’s game with San Antonio FC.
2. Chris Cortez hasn’t seen quite as many minutes as he might have liked this season, his first for Arizona, but the time he has seen on the field when not sidelined by injury have brought about some of the best highlights of United’s season so far. Adding to his long-range blast against Seattle last month and Wednesday night’s stoppage-time winner against Vancouver was his exquisite free kick against his former club on Sunday, which put Arizona ahead nine minutes into the second half. If Arizona does end up reaching the playoffs this season, Cortez’s influence will be a big reason why.
3. For Orange County, the week proved to be one step forward, and one back, as it was unable to build on its midweek victory against Tulsa on its home turf. The Blues could feel a little unlucky not to have gotten back on level terms with two chances that resulted in big saves by United goalkeeper Carl Woszczynski, and another coming back off the post, but now they’ll head to the Pacific Northwest for two challenging games against Vancouver and Portland as they look to hold off its challengers for a playoff position.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Chris Cortez, Arizona United SC – Cortez scored a beautiful finish that ended up being the game-winning goal, and added a late assist to lead his side back to victory, and a six-point week for the side.
Orange County Blues FC at Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 – August 10, 10 p.m. ET, Thunderbird Stadium
Arizona United SC vs. San Antonio FC – August 13, 10:30 p.m. ET, Peoria Sports Complex