Stalemate in the Desert

by Art Eftekhari

FC arizona and ocfc were unable to find the breakthrough in a back and forth match that ended in a scoreless draw on the opening night of the 2017 NPSL Season

Mesa, AZ - The match started off with both teams trading possession and it was FC Arizona with the first scoring opportunity seven minutes into the match when midfielder Paul LaMarca shot the ball over the bar after a free kick from Jose Manuel Rivera.

Five minutes later OCFC had their first chance to get on the board but midfielder Jonathan Romero’s free kick from twenty-five yards went right to goalkeeper Andrew Weber.

Soon after FC Arizona midfielder Chris Ramsell went down in the penalty area but the referee did not blow his whistle.

FC Arizona kept up the pressure as a shot from Costa Rican forward Alejandro Aguilar hit the post in the 25th minute and two minutes later Rivera’s shot from thirty yards out beat keeper Brandon Gomez but hit the top of the crossbar.

Late in the first half Gomez was called into action again as he made a save on a shot from Cesar Mexia after a free kick was swung in by Rivera.

FC Arizona were definitely the better side in the first half but were unable to break the deadlock as the match remained scoreless at the interval.

Four minutes into the second half Ramsell was creating trouble again for OCFC but his shot from the left was parried by Brandon Gomez and cleared to safety.

One minute later FC Arizona had their second appeal for penalty kick turned away by the referee after Aguilar appeared to have been brought down in the OCFC penalty area.

Orange County FC couldn’t be kept quiet for very long as midfielder Chris Gardea connected with a volley from forty yards out that was saved by Weber and two minutes before the hour mark a free kick from Alexis Campos barely went over the bar.

In the 68th minute FC Arizona midfielder Rivera was involved in the action again when his free kick was parried by Brandon Gomez.

Fatigue may have been a factor for the home side as OCFC began to control possession towards the end of the match but center back Erik Mueller felt there was more than one reason why OCFC began to create more chances.

"We played solid defensively from all positions on the pitch, and I think they were frustrated not to break the deadlock, so we gained momentum," said Mueller.

Second half substitute Jose Montes de Oca blasted a shot from forty yards out that dipped over the bar in the 79th minute and one minute later he had another from twenty yards out that also went over the bar. 

OCFC kept up the pressure as Weber was forced to make a save on another attempt from Montes de Oca in the 82nd minute. The supporters in Mesa were expecting a victory after they demolished Real San Jose in their last warm-up match but suddenly they were in danger of conceding a late goal to OCFC.

Both teams continued to trade possession as the match went into stoppage time and FC Arizona came close to finding a goal when a header from Rivera was on-target but saved by keeper Gomez.

Rivera’s header turned out to be the last scoring opportunity of the night as the match ended in a 0-0 draw.

A scoreless draw for both teams probably was disappointing but OCFC did a good job at being disciplined while playing tight defense.

OCFC came together as a team during the preseason and it showed tonight and next they get to put on a show for their home supporters when they host FC Temecula on Sunday March 19th at Portola High School in Irvine, CA.