Orange County SC Takes A Commanding 2-1 Victory Over Phoenix Rising FC Behind A Brace From Milan Iloski

by | Aug 12, 2022 | Orange County SC, USL

Milan Iloski Adds To His Lead For The USL Championship Golden Boot Race With 18 Goals This Season

By Tristan Bonetto – LA Soccer Press 

Orange County SC earned all three points at home behind a stellar performance from Milan Iloski, who scored a brace to catapult the Men in Orange past the Phoenix Rising FC on Friday, August 12th. Iloski, who recently took home USL Championship Konami eFootball Player of the Month in July, was firing on all cylinders for OCSC tonight.

OCSC began putting pressure on Rising FC’s backline early in the match. The striking duo of Milan Iloski and Erick “Cubo” Torres got some promising early chances on goal. A center into the box from midfielder Seth Casiple found Torres, who sent a header towards goal that hit the crossbar and went out as it went past Rising FC goalkeeper Benjamin Lundt.

OCSC opened the scoring in the 20th minute after Iloski received a pass on the left wing from Casiple. He dribbled into the box, cut back past a Rising FC defender, made room to set up his shot, and tucked away a cheeky finesse shot that went past the diving Lundt near post.

Rising FC seemed deflated after relinquishing a five-match clean sheet streak of nearly 500 minutes, but they responded quickly with a goal to equalize the match in the 23rd minute. J.J. Williams picked up the ball in front of Patrick Rakovsky and slotted away a curler into the bottom right corner.

OCSC continued creating chances but couldn’t find the lead in the first half. They continued to push forward, trying to find a match-winner as the second half began.

The continued pressure from OCSC was too much for Rising FC, and OCSC re-took the lead in the 62nd minute. Dillon Powers, with sniper-like accuracy, sent a chip pass over the Rising FC defense that found Iloski in the box. Iloski controlled the ball with his chest, turned around, and made it 2-1 with a half volley that Lundt couldn’t save. It was Iloski’s fourth brace this season and increased his lead by three goals in the Golden Boot race with 10 matches left to play.

“We had possession out on the wing, and the ball got circulated through the middle. Milan [Iloski] made a really nice run off the shoulder of the defenders,” said Dillon Powers, discussing the play that led to the match-winner. “I love that ball [I passed] because the whole defense is shifting across, and their focus is starting to go on the other side of the field. I saw him through the periphery, and just kind of dinked it over the top. He did really well to finish it off because he was kind of facing his own goal.”

This time, OCSC made sure not to let Rising FC find an equalizer. Rakovsky neutralized a dangerous center into the box from Rising FC as he got down and controlled the ball before any Rising FC players could pounce on it.

The OCSC defense stood strong to hold onto the victory, led by captain Michael Orozco, who became the new team leader in appearances, minutes, and starts for the club.

“He’s been great for us, [he] gives everything,” said Head Coach Richard Chaplow on Michael Orozco. “Anytime he is available, [he] gives every single minute of every game for us as he takes that into training as well. [He] never wants a day off even though we offer them all the time. [We try] to get him out of training sometimes to look after him, [but he] doesn’t want to do it, [he] just wants to be out there.”

This was a crucial win for OCSC, which has been struggling to put together results this season. Before this match, OCSC had dropped 12 points from winning positions after the 60th minute in the 2022 USL Championship season. OCSC has a quick turnaround as they host Las Vegas Lights FC at Championship Stadium in Irvine, CA, on Wednesday, August 17th, with kickoff beginning at 7:00 PM PT.     

Bonetto is a student at CSU Long Beach. He covers Orange County Soccer Club for LA Soccer Press. Follow him at @tristanbonetto on Twitter.