IRVINE, CA (August 17, 2014)- The Orange County Blues suffered a 6-1 loss to Northern California rivals Sacramento Republic FC in front of 753 fans at Anteater Stadium.
Sacramento Republic clinched a berth in the 2014 USL PRO playoffs after this victory.
Sacramento took the season series three games to one. After the first three games finished 2-1 with the home team winning each time, no one expected such a one-sided affair.
The Blues opened the season series at Anteater Stadium on April 12, where the Blues were victorious with a 2-1 win. Sacramento then hosted Orange County on May 3 and then July 7 at their new stadium, Bonney Field, where the Republic was victorious both times.
Sacramento Republic played with a sense of urgency as the visitors knew that all three points.
Although six goals were scored on Blues’ goalkeeper Aaron Perez, the former NFL punter put in an impressive shift. But, the lack of possession in the midfield for the Blues led to what seemed to be a continuous onslaught from the Republic. Orange County needed to keep up the intensity because the season depended on it, but Sacramento outclassed them.
Nemanja Vukovic opened the scoring in the 38th minute with a ferocious volley after Perez blocked four shots in succession by the Republic, but the Blues were unable to clear their lines and the ball popped out for the 30-year-old to smash home his first goal of the season.
The Blues responded in the 47th minute as Allan Russell was taken down after a neat turn in the box. The captain picked himself up and slid the ball past Dominik Jakubek, even though the Republic keeper guessed right.
It appeared to be game on, but two goals in two minutes put the game to bed.
First Mickey Daly finished a Max Alverez free kick after the Blues were unable to get the ball out of the box in the 54th minute. Two minutes later and the Blues were knocked to the canvas as Emrah Kilmenta crossed the ball for Alvarez to head the ball across for Adam Jahn to knock home his fifth goal of the season.
Thomas Stewart then entered the match in the 61st minute and recorded a hat-trick in 22 minutes. The former Shamrock Rovers forward struck in the 68th minute from a tight angle with a vicious effort that caught Perez off guard.
Five minutes later, Stewart ghosted through the Blues defense and smashed the ball beyond Perez into the right side of the net.
On the stroke of full time the 27-year-old completed his hat-trick, with a carbon copy of his 73rd minute strike. The goal took the Northern Irish forward to double digits on the season, clinching a playoff spot for Sacramento and possibly sending Orange County crashing out of the playoffs.
This defeat puts the Blues 9-16-0, tied for the ninth spot in the USL PRO Standings with Charlotte Eagles and Arizona United SC.
The Blues will be back at it next Saturday, August 23rd at home versus the Wilmington Hammerheads FC. Kick-off is slated for 7:00 P.M. PT.
With only three games remaining, now is the time to come out to Anteater Stadium if you haven’t already, as Orange County makes its final playoff push. For the best pricing on tickets, contact the Blues front office at (714) 738-8011 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.