Photo courtesy Liza Rosales / Orange County Blues FC
IRVINE, Calif. – Rio Grande Valley FC bounced back from its loss in the first game of its trip to California with a 1-0 win against Orange County Blues FC at Anteater Stadium on Saturday night, dropping the Blues back out of the top eight in the USL Western Conference in the process. The Blues had the ball in the back of the net twice early, but both were ruled out for offside, but the hosts proved the more aggressive early. Orange County almost took the lead in the 20th minute when Max Rauhofer’s finish from close range after a good cross by Andrae Campbell went over the crossbar, while RGVFC goalkeeper Devin Perales had to make a pair of saves to keep the game scoreless at halftime. The Blues again went close early in the second half as Roy Meeus hit the post, but as the half wore on the Toros started to get into the attack more often. RGVFC took the lead with 10 minutes to go as substitute Dzenan Catic lost his marker in the penalty area to head home a good cross from the right, and while the Blues looked to find a way back into the game with an equalizer, the Toros claimed a crucial three points on the road as the Blues slid out of the playoff positions.
80’ – RGV – Dzenan Catic
Three Things That Matter:
1. The Toros had to hold on at times under pressure from the hosts, with the Blues entering the contest knowing two wins would book a return to the postseason. Defensively, however, Rio Grande Valley displayed the same strengths that have helped the side reach the top three in the West in the club’s inaugural season, and when the chance arrived to grab all three points on the road, the Toros took it thanks to a fine header by Dzenan Catic. The Toros will be scoreboard-watching next weekend as they host San Antonio, but the prospect of a top-two finish is still on for Coach Wilmer Cabrera’s side.
2. Orange County had plenty of energy throughout the game, but in the end the side’s inability to convert in the final third came back to haunt it and left the side needing help to reach the postseason in the final weekend of the season. The Blues ended with only two shots on goal for the contest, compared to their visitors’ five, and with Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC the visitor next Saturday night on the hunt for a top-two finish themselves, the game will prove a massive test if Orange County is to get the win it may need.
3. The Toros’ victory set up a potentially breathtaking final day of the regular season for the Western Conference at both the top of the standings, and in the race for eighth place. While both Sacramento and Real Monarchs SLC were still in action at the time of writing, Colorado Springs’ late winner against Seattle, and San Antonio’s win against Tulsa, leaves three teams in with a chance of both claiming top spot in the conference, and potentially four or five in with a chance at the eighth playoff berth next Saturday. That’s definitely going to be worth tuning in for.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Dzenan Catic, Rio Grande Valley FC – On as a second-half substitute, it didn’t take long for Catic to make his presence felt, as his goal gave the Toros’ victory, and within reach of a potential first-place finish.
Orange County Blues FC vs. Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC – Sept. 24, 10 p.m. ET, Anteater Stadium
Rio Grande Valley FC vs. San Antonio FC – Sept. 24, 8:30 p.m. ET, Toro Park