OCFC blank La Habra City

by Art Eftekhari

Orange County FC defeated La habra city fc of the upsl 3-0 with goals from Staford Palmer, alexis campos, and jonathan romero!

Laguna Beach - The beginning of the 2017 NPSL season is rapidly approaching and OCFC already gave their supporters a glimpse of what is to come in the upcoming season.

American soccer legend and OCFC head coach Paul Caligiuri was on the sidelines as his squad entertained La Habra City FC of the United Premier Soccer League in a friendly match on February 18th at Laguna Beach High School.

Caligiuri’s men go off to an ideal start as OCFC took a 1-0 lead fourteen minutes into the match when midfielder Chris Gardea caught La Habra napping on a free kick with a quick restart that saw a nice through ball get to Jacob Perez.

Wasting no time, Perez made a fine cut back and centered the ball into the penalty area that was finished off perfectly by English striker Staford Palmer.

“We accomplished what we initially wanted to do in the first fifteen minutes, which was press and create turnovers in the attacking third,” said Paul Caligiuri.

OCFC held onto their one goal lead going into the interval but La Habra City began controlling more possession after falling behind.

Striker Ronaldo Pineda created trouble for OCFC with his speed and called keeper Mark Aguilar into action with a diving save. Later in the first half Pineda sent a shot over bar on a free kick but OCFC’s defense stayed disciplined to preserve the one goal advantage.

After the break Caligiuri and his coaching staff made nine substitutions.

Midfielders Michael Bryant and Jonathan Romero helped bring the momentum back to OCFC while captain and center back Erik Mueller was huge in keeping the defense organized throughout the second half.

Early in the second half Romero shot a side volley from twenty-five yards out that went inches wide left and minutes later he rifled a shot from a similar distance that beat keeper Sean Bieker but the ball rattled the crossbar.

La Habra City were not playing with the same momentum that they had down the stretch of the first half but they nearly capitalized on a defensive mistake as OCFC keeper Jorge Rivas made a sliding save to deny attacking midfielder Julian Okai.

Immediately after Okai's scoring opportunity it was OCFC that increased their lead to 2-0 when Alexis Campos connected with a long ball in no-man’s land and sent his shot past a diving Bieker.

Romero continued to create problems for La Habra throughout the second half with his speed and finally got on the score sheet in stoppage time when he finished off a cross after an excellent run from left back Mustafaa to give OCFC a 3-0 win.

“In the second half, we played more balanced. I thought the momentum shifted because of the way Michael Bryant played. He dictated the pace offensively for us and Jonathan Romero changed the game from the standpoint of his individual skills that led this team to victory,” said Caligiuri.

The 2017 NPSL season will be here soon but Paul Caligiuri and OCFC are looking to build on their momentum before they visit FC Arizona in Mesa on March 11th.