LAFC ousts Orange County SC from U.S. Open Cup – Daily Breeze

LOS ANGELES — In the time it takes to complete a traffic-free drive from Irvine to Los Angeles, Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup third-round match at Banc of California was effectively over.

A trio of goals by the Los Angeles Football Club in the opening 45 minutes lifted the team with the best record in MLS to a stress-free 5-1 victory in its first head-to-head match against Orange County SC, the reigning United States League champions.

The return of the oldest soccer tournament in the nation followed the knockout competition’s two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the decisive result, LAFC improved to 6-2 all-time in the event and 3-0 against USL teams.

Orange County defeated the L.A. Force earlier this month to put itself in position to face LAFC, which advances to a fourth-round match that will be played on May 10 or 11, pending the draw on Thursday.

The opportunity to win a trophy and qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League is an opportunity “we take very seriously,” said LAFC head coach Steve Cherundolo, who entered the contest with a 1-3 record against OCSC.

“The objective tonight was to move on and we did,” he said.

Employing a rotated lineup for its first midweek match of 2022, LAFC made changes that included forward Danny Musovski starting instead of captain Carlos Vela and goalkeeper John McCarthy in place of Canadian international Maxime Crepeau.

“Our roster is very strong and it’s tough to compete for minutes here,” Musovski said prior to the match. “I think it’s important to get minutes but I do think it’s a very important tournament. You are competing to be the best team in the United States.”

The 26-year-old from Henderson, Nevada, made the most of his opportunity, scoring in the 13th minute to give LAFC a lead it would not relinquish.

A turnover in the midfield was immediately converted into an attack following two quick passes by defender Diego Palacios and midfielder Jose Cifuentes that freed Musovski in the box, where he beat OCSC goalkeeper Patrick Rakovsky low and inside the far post.

“I know Cifu is always playing that pass,” Musovski said. “I took off and when he put it there I was one-on-one with the keeper and put it in the corner.”

The Black & Gold secured its second goal in the 34th minute after Palacios, the only regular on the backline to play all 90 minutes, hit an inswinging cross that found Colombian striker Cristian Arango.

Cutting across an opposing defender to get to the ball, “Chicho” redirected the ball into the net with his right thigh.

Prior to halftime, Musovski used a beautiful back pass in the box to set up Arango for his fourth goal in the last three games.

“Everybody, as we expected, came into their roles and understood them and had good performances,” Cherundolo said.

With the exception of three changes, OCSC head coach Richard Chaplow fielded a similar lineup to the one that yielded a 1-1 draw against Sacramento Republic FC in its USL match on Saturday.

The visitors, flanked by a couple of hundred supporters among the crowd of 5,200, pushed for chances when they could.

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