Orange County Soccer Club goalkeeper Patrick Rakovsky set his sights on the Oakland Roots penalty kick takers in Saturday’s USL Championship Western Conference semifinal.
Through five attempts, he was still looking for his save.
“They kicked them well,” he said of the Oakland Roots SC attempts. “Every team has five penalty kick takers. When you get to six, seven, eight, they’re not the most confident.”
In the sixth round, Rakovsky gave OCSC its break saving an attempt by Akeem Ward.
To seal the win, Ronaldo Damus needed a second attempt to finally send Orange County Soccer Club into the conference final.
“It was probably not the best game, but we were calm from the start,” Rakovsky said. “In the end, it was great work for the team.”
OCSC will attempt to keep things going Saturday night, as it hosts San Antonio FC in the Western Conference final (7 p.m., ESPN+)
The winner will face either Tampa Rowdies or Louisville City FC in the USL Championship on Nov. 28.
This is Rakovsky’s first year with OCSC. He joined the league and club after a 10-year professional career in Germany, Belgium and Finland.
Rakovsky, 28, had entertained plans of eventually moving to the U.S., but the schedule never worked. His move to Finland got him on track with the USL schedule, and with his in-laws in Arizona, the move was made to Orange County.
“At the beginning, it was tough,” he said of playing in the USL. “My first game was against Tacoma and it was on a baseball field. I was like, ‘What is this?’ It took me a while to adjust to style, play and of course the weather.”
Rakovsky also had to deal with a coaching change in August as the club relieved Braeden Cloutier and named Richard Chaplow as interim coach.
“We were unlucky,” Rakovsky said of the early season. “We lost games in the last minutes, got draws in the last minute and we had the trade of (Chris) Wehan, which had a massive impact on the team and was a huge loss for us.
“It was a time where we weren’t getting the results we wanted, but we got back to basics. Let’s defend and they can’t score. We started to show our quality, but the main focus was, we have to defend well. We became more defensive, have a better shape and here we are.”
Rakovsky has been that anchor to lead the second-half charge. He was nominated for USL Player of the Month in October. He’s allowed one goal in the past seven games and recorded four clean sheets in the last six games of the regular season.
“It’s going to be a difficult game,” Rakovsky said of San Antonio FC. “They’re a very technical team, young, they’re going to be hard to be defend, but having the home-field advantage was definitely a key last game and again this game.
“The last few weeks, we’ve shown that we’re good and that it is hard to score on us.”