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OCSC to Take On the Oakland Roots in the Second Round of the Playoffs

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Orange County Soccer Club (16-7-10) will take on the Oakland Roots (12-8-13) in the 2021 USL Championship Playoffs, presented by TwinSpires: Western Conference Semifinal at Championship Soccer Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. The game will be the fifth meeting between the two teams this season, with OCSC winning all four previous matchups and only conceding one goal in those four games to the Roots. The winner will advance to the Western Conference Finals of the USL Championship playoffs to face the winner of Rio Grande Valley FC vs. San Antonio FC next Saturday, Nov. 20.

After defeating the Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, 1-0, this past Saturday, OCSC looks to extend their six-game win streak and keep their season alive against the surging Oakland team. The Roots come into this game after narrowly defeating the Mountain Division No. 1-seed, El Paso Locomotive FC, 1-0 in El Paso, Texas on Friday, Nov. 5.

OCSC head coach Richard Chaplow stressed the high stakes of the upcoming game. 

“Ultimately, we know that if we don’t get the job done on the weekend, our season is over. We have to make sure that we prepare with the same mindset that we came into the last playoff game with,” Chaplow said.

OCSC will be without two of their primary defenders this weekend. 17-year-old defender Kobi Henry has recently been called up to the U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team and defender Rob Kiernan will be serving a one-game suspension after receiving a red card last week in the win over Colorado. In their absence, OCSC will need a near-perfect performance from defender Nathan Smith.

“We have a strong roster and a roster that we’re confident in our staff to work with. Whichever team we put out there, we put the team [that] we believe can win the game,” Chaplow said.

The game will be the first for Chaplow as head coach. 

“I think once I came out to the U.S., my thirst for coaching started increasing,” he said. “I think as things went on as being assistant, I started to … really see myself someday being the head coach of this club, hopefully. Lucky for me, it’s worked out that way.”

Chaplow, a former OCSC player himself, made 57 appearances for the club. He added four goals and four assists to his stat line during his three-year career with the team. He captained the team to a first-place finish in the Western Conference in 2018, then hung up his cleats after a 16-year professional playing career.

“I think experience is a big thing. I’ve played under some world-class coaches playing back home in England, and you take a little bit from each of them,” Chaplow said.

In the team’s previous matchup with the Roots on Saturday, Oct. 16 in Oakland, OCSC came away with a 1-0 victory led by a goal from midfielder Ben Mines. 

Saturday’s game will coincide with a “Dollar Beers and Cheap Eats” promotion at Championship Soccer Stadium. Tickets to the game are available for purchase online. The game can also be streamed on ESPN+ and Cox Communications TV. For more information about OCSC and the USL Championship Playoffs, visit orangecountysoccer.com/playoffs.

James Huston is a Sports Staff Writer for the fall 2021 quarter. He can be reached at hustonj@uci.edu.