Photo courtesy of Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2
VANCOUVER – Orange County Blues FC Jamaican defender Brenton Griffiths headed home a late winner as the Blues went on the road to beat Western Conference-leading Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 1-0 on Wednesday at Thunderbird Stadium. The winning tally came off a set piece chance in the 88th minute. Orange County improved to 9-10-4 (31 points) overall to move into sixth place in the standings. The Blues are now 4-6-2 on the road. Vancouver maintains a two-point lead over the second-place LA Galaxy II, but have played two more matches than Los Dos. WFC2 is now 10-6-7 (37 points) and 5-2-3 at home. This marked the second and final regular-season meeting of the season between WFC2 and Orange County. Vancouver defeated the Blues 1-0 on March 26 at Anteater Stadium in the season opener for both clubs.
88’ – OC – Brenton Griffiths
Three Things That Mattered:
1. For much of Wednesday’s match, it appeared as though it would end in a scoreless draw as both teams looked lackadaisical in the final third. Orange County earned a late corner kick opportunity, and the Blues did just enough to steal an important victory on the road. Roy Meeus delivered the left-footed corner from the right and WFC2 had a pair of defenders going up for an attempted clearance. It was Sem de Wit who rose up and made contact, but the redirect went toward the left of the box where the Blues’ Brenton Griffiths was waiting. Unmarked, he headed it into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead and his third tally of the season.
2. Orange County forward and recent signing Orr Barouch made his debut Wednesday, entering the match in the 57th minute. He reunited with defender Kwame Watson-Siriboe who was making his third appearance and earned the start. Barouch and Watson-Siriboe were former MLS teammates with the Chicago Fire. The Blues are certainly hoping their experience in the back and in the attack will pay dividends as the club looks to make a rise up the Western Conference standings.
3. Vancouver was closer than the Blues on several occasions during the first 45 minutes, even though Orange County tended to have the better of the possession throughout the opening half. WFC2 typically played through Fatawu Safiu in most the club’s first-half buildups. Safiu demonstrated some finesse with his feet to create enough space for a right-footed shot from 24 yards out in the 11th minute but pushed his shot a little wide left. In the 29th minute, Safiu crossed the ball in from the left and Orange County’s back line had a scary moment when the Blues’ deflection popped up over the crossbar and hit the top netting for a WFC2 corner kick. For Safiu, he picked up his fifth caution of the season and will miss the club’s next match against Arizona United SC on Aug. 21, serving a one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match:
Brenton Griffiths, Orange County Blues FC – Griffiths had the clutch moment for the Blues with the winning goal in the dying minutes of the match.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 vs. Arizona United SC – Aug. 21, 6 p.m. ET, McLeod Athletic Park
Orange County Blues FC at Portland Timbers 2 – Aug. 14, 5 p.m. ET, Merlo Field