Saturday’s game between Orange County FC and CD Aguiluchos USA should be a great game of skill and offensive power. The pair face off in this weekend’s West Region Final, a thrilling part of the NPSL Playoffs powered by Mitre.
In their first season of the NPSL, Orange County was an offensive juggernaut in the 2017 regular season, racking up 65 goals and a +46 goal differential. OCFC’s attack is led by 2017 NPSL Golden Boot co-winner Alessandro Canale, who finished with 18 goals.
Canale is perhaps one of the best strikers in the country, a real habit at finding the back of the net. At one point this season he scored 13 goals in a three-game span, using his physical presence and impressive skills to create numerous scoring opportunities. Canale praises his teammates for his current run of form, but admits that he is not content with the success.
“So far, I’m not satisfied with our success, that is not to say that I’m not thrilled with what we have done thus far. I envisioned us being here at the West Regional Final, since we first began our journey. I am just hungry for more and I know my teammates sentiment.”
Canale’s not unaided in the Orange County offense, especially when you look at the support of forward Staforde Palmer (12 goals) and midfielder Connor Gordon (10 goals) this season. The trio gives Orange County three of the league’s top ten goal scorers in 2017.
“We have been able to do what we need to do to win,” Canale added. “Everyone has been executing and performing in their role, every player has had an impact. We have scored and done well enough, but there is still work to be done.”
When asked about tomorrow’s match Canale was thrilled about the North and South showdown.
“I am excited for the match, looking forward to a good game against a quality side in CD Aquiluchos. It will be classic North vs. South showdown and we are ready. The difficult part will be getting up to the Bay. Without doubt, we have the desire and focus to overcome and hardships to claim this tremendous accomplishment for this organization.”
Aguiluchos did not look like a guarantee for the West Region final as they ended the 2017 regular season. They suffered a three-match losing streak which pushed them out of first place in the standings. Yet two-time NPSL Golden boot winner Simon Rawnsley did not doubt the team’s chances.
“We were on a such a good run before losing those last three games. Injuries started to add up and we had to make changes to the lineup which affected our performances. We had been working on developing a winning mentality but we are a determined group that doesn’t like to lose.”
This is Rawnsley’s third season with CDA and not surprisingly, the club has made it to the NPSL postseason each of those three years. He’s the home sides top striker surely, but more importantly, he credits the teams experience when it comes to playoff soccer.
“As a team, we are always confident and ready when it comes to these type of games. Nerves aren’t a problem, few years ago we were underdogs, but this year teams are chasing us. It’s a different mentality.”
Rawnsley was quick to point out the advantage at playing at home for CDA and time put in preparing for West Region Final.
“Playing at home is huge, you don’t have to deal with all the long-distance traveling, the home crowd is behind you, and you are accustomed to the field more than the opposing side. The coaches gave us a detailed report on Orange County, so we are prepared to play our game and take are chances when they come. Overall should be a great and exciting game.”
The game between Orange County FC and CD Aguiluchos USA should be a remarkable between these two sides. Both sides have enough offensively skill players to rack up the goal scoring on what should be one of the top games this year. The winner of the West Region Final will move on to the NPSL National Semifinal on August 5th.