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OCSC Pulls Off Spectacular Second Half Comeback to Defeat LA Galaxy II, 5-2

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Defending USL champion Orange County Soccer Club (OCSC) (5-7-9) defeated LA Galaxy II (9-3-10) with a 5-2 victory at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, CA on Saturday, July 23 at 7:30pm.

​​LA Galaxy II came into the game as the number six seed in the USL Championship Western Conference standings. The young LA team was poised to move up to the number four seed with a win. The stakes were even higher for OCSC, the number 12 team in the standings, for whom this loss could have meant a loss for the whole season. OCSC’s low standing is surprising, given that the team won their first-ever USL Championship trophy in its 11-year history last season. 

The beginning of the game shifted in favor of the Galaxy when a swift layup header by superstar center forward Preston Judd found the back of the net following a nicely played cross by 18-year- old forward Johnny Pérez putting the Galaxy ahead 1-0 three minutes into the game. LA Galaxy II dominated the first half with outstanding plays, ripping OCSC’s defense limb by limb.

Much like the start of this season for OCSC, the defending champions came out to Saturday’s game sluggish. While OCSC was good at defending in their own box, their overall defense lacked fluidity and rhythm, giving LA Galaxy too much space to establish their passing game and too many opportunities to break out a play. 

Possession wise, LA Galaxy was the better team during the first half. Swamped in a sea of yellow cards and with a crumbling defense, things did not look good for OCSC. 

Nearing the end of the first half, something sparked for the defending USL Champions. OCSC’s top scoring forward Milan Iloski beautifully set up former Chivas USA forward, Erick “Cubo” Torres, to score his ninth goal of the season. This goal tied the score 1-1 going into the second half.

After an extremely physical and generally weak first half for OCSC, there was no expectation that the second would be any different. 

OCSC came out the gates to a blistering second half start. At the start of the second, Iloski ripped a goal off a left footed strike, bringing OCSC to a 2-1 lead. Within the first minute, LA Galaxy was shell shocked. The goal was the 13th of the season for OCSC’s star forward.

Immediately following the goal, LA Galaxy looked out of sorts defensively. OCSC capitalized off an error by Galaxy goalkeeper Eric López as he was unable to handle a header from Iloski which ended up bouncing right to an open OCSC defender Albi Skendhi. Skendi finished off the play with a left footed strike to the bottom left corner of the net putting OCSC ahead 3-1, his third goal of the season.

OCSC’s second half adjustments to their play were remarkable. The team’s defense matured dramatically into the match with much better posture and shape, creating deadly two-on-ones that put the LA Galaxy on their heels. Ultimately, OCSC placed a tremendous test on the character of their Western Conference rival. 

The script had flipped, and LA Galaxy struggled to keep up in the second half. While Judd faded out of the picture, Iloski emerged with physical prowess and scored his second goal in the 72nd minute. LA Galaxy’s goalkeeper stood no chance again against Iloski’s blistering form.

Within the next five minutes, a well taken run by OCSC forward Sean “Ugo” Okoli and a beautiful assist by Iloski brought OCSC to a remarkable 5-1 lead in the 405 derby. The defending champion was checking every box in this game and still hadn’t picked up a single yellow card this half. 

In the last 15 minutes of the second half, Pérez slammed a shot against OCSC, bringing the score to 5-2. It was at least something positive for the young LA team, but with OCSC on a three goal cushion, it was ultimately too little too late. LA had lost their concentration and OCSC was playing their best game yet of the season.

Evening the score by the end of the first half and pulling away in the second, OCSC had an unexpected turnaround as LA Galaxy came out flat on home field against their Western Conference rival.

The win snaps a four game winless streak for OCSC and provides some much needed momentum for the team heading into another big matchup on Saturday, July 30 against San Diego Loyal SC. The game kicks off at 7:00 p.m. at Championship Soccer Stadium in Irvine, CA and can be streamed on ESPN+.

Erika Cao is an Opinion Editor for the 2022-23 school year. She can be reached at caoea@uci.edu.