Riverside Coras vs. Orange County FC: Pregame Report

Date: Sunday April 29th 2018

Time: 5:00 pm

Location: Championship Soccer Stadium – 8272 Great Park Blvd, Irvine, CA 92618

After a week off from any NPSL action, Riverside hits the road once more to take on Orange County FC. Riverside Coras sit in last place with one point out of their first four matches ( draw to Temecula FC in week 1). Orange County FC will be playing their sixth match of the season, and coming off a busy week where they beat ASC San Diego 2-1, then traveled to Arizona and drew 1-1.

The result of this game weighs heavily for both teams. Riverside Coras FC are eight points behind third place (last year’s finish) and need to start gaining points before that target is out of reach. OCFC are currently in third place and a win this week would put them at 11 points; enough to either be in first or second place at the end of the week( league leaders FC Golden State and ASC San Diego play on Saturday 4/28).

OCFC: 2-0-3

Former Riverside Coras player Cody Shelton welcomes his old team to his new home. Cody, brother of Shane Shelton, has been a versatile piece to head coach Paul Caliguiri’s side. OCFC is strongly organized and like to hold possession through horizontal passing. Currently they are the best defensive team in the conference, only allowing two goals in 5 games. While keeper, Brandon Gomez, has been playing very well, the defense’s ability to trap the opposition out wide has helped create many turnovers before the ball even gets into the box.

OCFC will line up in what looks like a 4141, when trying to absorb pressure. Their line of four midfielders stay very compact and invite opposition attackers to take the outside channel. Once the attacker accepts the bait: the corresponding fullback will block the way forward, a CB or the CDM will aggressively close the attacker down and the OCFC winger will cut off any option of retreat. This forces the attacker to try to beat a player, most likely the fullback, or suffocate from Orange County’s pressure.

Riverside stand in a unique position in the Orange County calendar. This will be Orange County’s third match in two weeks and they are preparing for their first round of the US open cup on May 9th. We will see on sunday if head coach Paul Caliguiri decides to rest some players with the upcoming busy schedule in mind.

Riverside Coras FC: 0-3-1

This looks to be the toughest match Riverside Coras FC will have this year. The Coras love to use their speed out wide while trying to catch the opposition on the counter. Throughout the season this had led to big gaps in the center of the midfield, that have been easily exploited by the opponents. So how does a team that prefers to play wide, play against an opponent that wants them to play out wide?

It starts with identifying the trap, then penetrating the midfield line, before attacking the width on the pitch. The midfield will be packed with players, so the Coras may want to try to bypass it by using a long diagonal ball. This may be effective a few times but shouldn’t be used as a consistent method of moving the ball forward. For an organized defense such as OCFC, Riverside will need to be willing to dribble straight through the midfield to put their own attackers in dangerous positions in front of goal, rather than their attackers moving the ball to that dangerous position himself. Keep the passes quick and the touches minimal.

One surprise that Riverside may have up their sleeve are their set pieces. Look for Riverside to continue to be physical and aggressive in the air. Last week during the double-header, Shane Shelton smashed a ball into the goal off a corner kick. A few Coras are dangerous in the air and that could be quite the advantage that Riverside needs to break their losing streak. 

This week the conference’s best defense goes against it’s worst offense. Will Riverside head coach Gabriel Esqueda have figured out the key to solving Riverside’s scoring woes? Some signs are leading to what can be the biggest upset of the week. Vamos Coras!

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