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Orange County Soccer Club moves on from Braeden Cloutier as head coach

Braeden Cloutier, in an undated photo, left, was released by the team on Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021.
Braeden Cloutier, left, had been the head coach of Orange County Soccer Club since the start of the 2018 season. He was relieved of his head coaching duties on Thursday.
(Courtesy of Orange County Soccer Club)

Orange County Soccer Club announced Thursday that it has parted ways with head coach Braeden Cloutier.

The decision comes amid a rough stretch for Orange County, which has just one win over its last eight games. The club has gone 1-5-2 in that span, the last of those games resulting in a 3-0 defeat to the Tacoma Defiance at home on Wednesday night.

“After much thought and a long evaluation of our current situation to accomplish our goals for the season, we made the difficult decision to relieve Braeden of his duties as head coach,” President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Oliver Wyss said in a statement. “Braeden has been part of the Orange County coaching staff for more than six years, including his role as head coach for the past four plus seasons, and we are forever grateful for his contributions and successes on and off the field.

“Braeden has been an exceptional professional and has represented this club with incredible class, and we wish him all the best moving forward.”

Richard Chaplow, who was an assistant coach, has been named interim head coach for Orange County (7-7-5, 26 points), which has fallen to fourth place in the Pacific Division of the United Soccer League Championship standings. Orange County has 13 regular-season games remaining, beginning with a road contest against the San Diego Loyal on Saturday.

Outside of Pacific Division leader Phoenix Rising FC (11-2-4, 37 points), the standings are crowded. Tacoma (7-4-6, 27 points) and San Diego (8-8-3, 27 points) are each one point ahead of Orange County, but Tacoma has two games in hand. Sacramento Republic FC (5-6-6, 21 points), which is fifth, has also played two fewer games. The top four teams in each division will qualify for the postseason.

In his time at the helm for Orange County, Cloutier’s teams made two playoff appearances. Cloutier’s first season in 2018 saw the club finish atop the Western Conference with a 20-8-6 record. Orange County advanced to the conference finals that year, bowing out against Phoenix.

Orange County went 49-31-23 over 103 regular-season games under Cloutier.

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