Losing to San Diego Loyal 3-2 at home over the weekend was a blow for Orange County SC, who are aware that their quest for the 2022 playoffs is seriously jeopardised. Despite Milan Iloski scoring twice to give OCSC the lead twice in the game, San Diego rallied each time, and Evan Conway’s goal in the 85th minute gave them the victory. It was still a depressing outcome for Orange County SC despite a record regular season attendance of 5,177 at Championship Soccer Stadium, a Ukrainian culture celebration and fundraiser to support Ukraine in their ongoing war with Russia, Iloski taking the USL Championship Golden Boot lead with his goals in this game, and a USL Championship Team of the Week selection.
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Following the game, OCSC head coach Richard Chaplow said, “I’m unhappy to not get anything out of the game. There is no denying that San Diego is a strong squad. The league standings makes this clear, yet we competed head-to-head with them. We twice put ourselves in winning positions. Additionally, if you give up three goals at home, you cannot win football games. It’s therefore challenging to accept because, in my opinion, if you score two goals at home, you’d like to believe you earn three points or at least a point out of the game. But once more, we leave empty-handed.
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Orange County is currently 10 points below the playoff line after the loss, which places them at the bottom of the Western Conference. There are still 12 games to play, but the window is undoubtedly closing. Chaplow, who came over in the middle of the season last year and guided OCSC to the league title, is aware of how difficult this season will be but hasn’t given up just yet.
We have nothing to lose and everything to gain, he said. We have  games to play, so our weekly focus as a team won’t alter since we need to keep our attention on the present and avoid looking too far ahead. We are certainly trying to get back into the fight right now after taking a brief break. In order to give ourselves a chance, we must put the same level of effort and concentration into everything we do on the practise field from Monday through Friday as well as everything we do off it. We don’t have a team of players that will give up; they play every game to the bitter end, regardless of how careless the goals are. Orange County has resumed play. We’ll see if the surge continues when they host the Colorado Springs Switchbacks on Saturday.