For the first time this season, the Orange County Soccer Club has lost consecutive games.

OCSC had its eight-game unbeaten streak snapped July 14 with a 2-1 loss to San Diego Loyal SC and Saturday, suffered a 2-0 loss to Rio Grande Valley.

“I gave the boys a few days off, after the last game on Saturday, not only physically to get fresh, but also mentally, to get sharper,” OCSC coach Braeden Cloutier said. “Getting everybody back on the same page and getting everybody fresh. Everybody left everything they had on the field, I just think they needed some time the last couple of days to recharge the batteries.”

“The intensity, focus and attention to detail has been there this week. The locker room has been very good this year, it’s been very strong, all the players have bought in and are very supportive of one another and what we’re trying to do here.”

OCSC (6-4-3, 21 points) will need to be focused this week as USL Championship play resumes. Starting Saturday at home against Sacramento Republic FC (7 p.m.), the club kicks off a stretch of three games in eight days, which includes road games (Tuesday at Las Vegas Lights and July 31 at Oakland Roots).

“We leave on Monday, play on Tuesday (in Las Vegas), get back in the wee hours in the morning on Wednesday and then we travel again (to Oakland) on Friday,” Cloutier said. “We just need to get ourselves physically and mentally right for that stretch and then when we come off the back end of that, we have a little bit of time where we can do a little bit more on the training ground and work on some more concepts of how we want to play.”

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Damus returns

OCSC will receive a boost with the return of leading goal scorer Ronaldo Damus. Damus (six goals in eight games) has been away with the Haiti National Team for the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

He returned Monday.

“It will be a huge spark for us,” Cloutier said of Damus’ return. “He’s a very energetic player, but personality-wise, he’s fantastic, all the boys love him. He’s somebody the guys galvanize around.

Pacific Division race shaping up

OCSC is tied with San Diego on 21 points in the division, five points behind leader Phoenix Rising FC (26 points). The next nearest club is Las Vegas Lights and Galaxy II (13 points).

“On paper it looks like these three teams (OCSC, Las Vegas, Phoenix) are the strongest of the group,” Cloutier said. “But anything can happen. You get a few injuries, for any of us, or there are key acquisitions in the middle of the season and when you’re playing each other four times …that’s also a different situation.

“In a normal season, you’re just playing home and away. If you’re eight points clear, it might take four to six weeks to catch you, but you play this team 3 times in two weeks, that’s a nine-point turnaround. You have to stay on your toes the entire season, but any one …read more

Source:: Los Angeles Daily News


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