After drawing in consecutive games from winning positions vs. Portland Timbers 2 and Phoenix Rising as well as losing Carlos Alvarez due to injury, Orange County SC manager Logan Pause changed things up as they traveled up to Seattle back on July 16 by instructing his team to play in a 3-4-3 formation.
To his liking, the change in tactical set-up worked.
Orange County were able to come out of the gates strong as they were able to maintain their shape despite Seattle gaining the edge.
With having extra bodies in the midfield and attack, they were able to to hit Seattle on the counter as Gustavo Villalobos put in forward Wuilito Fernandes as he hit a cool finish to the far post in the 16th minute.
As both teams were seeking to achieve supremacy in the match, the full-backs of Orange County were able to help sustain attacks in their offensive zone, and they were able to break the deadlock as left-back Roy Meeus found space and crossed a ball that met the head of Fernandes but winger Monday Etim was able to knock it home to make 2-1 in the 30th minute.
While Charles Renken hit the post in the 68th minute, Orange County were able to see the match out as they held on to win 2-1.
Orange County, looking to keep their momentum going, traveled to H-E-B Park to take on Rio Grande Valley FC four days later.
They started the game well as their incessant pressing forced a turn at the back and Wuilito Fernandes was able to find Dusan Stevanovic on the top of the box as he hit shot past RGV keeper Marco Carducci to make it 1-0 in the 17th minute.
They soon conceded as Eric Bird dispatched a penalty past Charlie Lyon to make it 1-1.
Despite losing the lead, Orange County had their chances to ahead.
In the 36th minute, Dusan Stevanovic found space on the right in the penalty box and fizzled a ground cross that Wuilito Fernandes was unable to to reach.
In the 65th minute, Stevanovic put in a corner kick that met the head of Juan Pablo Ocgueda but went just wide of the mark.
Finally, in second half stoppage time, Gustavo Villalobos curled a shot inside the box but was saved by Carducci.
Four out of six points is a good points haul away, but last Saturday, Orange County’s 3-4-3 execution of the 3-4-3 formation would put Rio Grande Valley to the sword.
Right from kickoff, Orange County took the initiative and forced Rio Grande back in their own defensive half.
The home side would score in as early as the 8th minute as a Richard Chaplow cross found the foot of right-back Sama Esua to make it 1-0.
From then on, Orange County was on the supremacy. With having extra numbers in the attack, they were able to force Rio Grande into making mistakes.
As a result of their field position, Orange County were also first to second balls as the away side had no solutions to counter Orange County’s onslaught.
The home side would then go 2-0 up as Ivan Magalhaes handled the ball in the box, then Roy Meeus dispatched a penalty past Marco Carducci.
The score would remain the same at halftime.
At the start of the second half, Rio Grande Valley had good spells of possession, but Orange County was able to quell the storm and limited the away side’s touches on the ball.
Orange County would then kill the game off in the 82nd minute as Dusan Stevanovic floated a cross that met the head of Wuilito Fernandes to make it 3-0.
To add salt to the wound, substitute Zach Kobayashi would make it 4-0.
As a result of winning two out of three games, manager Logan Pause will likely continue with the 3-4-3 formation for the time being.
The change in formation has helped his forward chip in on the score sheet. The overload it creates puts their forwards in good opportunities to score. Monday Etim, Stevanovic, and Fernandes have logged a total of four goals in three games.
Along with overloading in the offensive zone, the formation helps Orange County force mistakes out of the other team as adding an extra body in the attack can help block passing lanes if any team seeks to play the ball of the back against them.
Finally, the formation brings defensive solidity. If Orange County are looking to hold a lead, they can drop their fullbacks and make a back five to help repel any attack.
Orange County will look to continue their good run of form Saturday July, 29 as they take on Vancouver Whitecaps II at home.
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