The Mexican-American defender Michael Orozco arrived in Orange County SC in 2019 and since then he has been a fundamental piece in the last three seasons of the team, a job that could crown this Sunday in a big way.
At 35, Orozco will play his first final with that club when he meets the Rowdies of Tampa Bay in the United Soccer League championship game. If they win, the OCSC would earn its first USL title in its history.
The final will be played at Al Lang Stadium in St. Petersburg, Florida, home of the Rowdies, at 5:30 pm (ESPN, ESPN Deportes). It will be the first time a USL championship match has been held since 2019 as the pandemic caused the grand final to be canceled last year.
To reach this final, the OCSC eliminated Colorado in the first round, defeated Oakland on penalties and San Antonio FC in the same way in the Western conference final, the first time it won a conference championship in history. of the franchise. In 2018, OCSC lost a conference final at their own home to Rising FC Phoenix, where Didier Drogba was playing at the time.
The team is led by Richard Chaplow, a former OCSC midfielder who took over the team on an interim basis after coach Braeden Cloutier was fired. Chaplow was later ratified as a permanent coach last November.
According to Orozco, since Chaplow’s arrival on the main bench, the mentality of the orange team has changed a lot and so has the work ethic.
“We train how we are going to play. We don’t let any details go, ”said Orozco, former player of San Luis, Puebla, Chiapas, Tijuana and Lobos BUAP in Liga MX. “We played as if it were the last game we were going to play.”
According to Orozco, the OCSC is very difficult to defeat because all the players who enter the field perform in the same way.
Following the win in the conference final, Chaplow asked the players to celebrate at the time, but there was still a lot of work to do.
“It’s going to be an exciting but winnable challenge,” said Chaplow, who has been with the Orange County team as player, assistant coach, and interim manager.
“(OCSC) has a special place in my heart. It is a place where we have lived for a long time. We understand your values and your goals and what you want to achieve. We are very excited to be one step away from bringing everything home, ”said Chaplow, 36. “We are happy to be the best in the West, but the goal is to win it all,” added the coach.
To get to the championship game, the Rowdies beat FC Tulsa, Birmingham Legion FC, and Louisville FC to conquer the Western Conference. The Rowdies finished with a record of 23 wins, seven losses and two draws. At home, they have a record of 14 wins, two losses and a draw. Their Uruguayan striker Sebastián Guenzatti is the team’s leading scorer, while their goalkeeper Evan Louro is also one of the most important men. If they win the crown, the Rowdies will also be first-time USL champions.
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Orozco and Orange County SC go for first USL title