Orange County Blues FC is set to host Los Angeles Galaxy II at Anteater Stadium on Saturday night. It is a match that the Blues are touting as one of the biggest and most important in the club’s history. In this case, the hype is probably not hyperbole. Orange County finds itself in the thick of a tight playoff race in the USL Western Conference, and the Blues are within striking distance of winning a conference championship. When the obstacle standing between your team and the postseason is a local SoCal rival, the reward for victory is that much greater.
In many respects, it is remarkable that Orange County is still playing meaningful matches this late in the season. Consider what the Blues accomplished just one season ago. Only two teams scored fewer goals than the Blues in 2014, and only one allowed fewer to be scored. Consequently, Orange County lost twice as many matches as it won, finishing second from the bottom of the USL.
The improved 2015 version of Orange County Blues FC is scoring more and conceding less. The result is that the Blues sit in third place in the USL West, just four points out of first place with four matches left in the regular season.
The transformation began with the hiring of Oliver Wyss as head coach in the offseason. From the time he signed to take the helm, Wyss was confident that his club would be in the hunt for a playoff berth late in the season.
“Absolutely. My goal and message to the entire organization has been to make the playoffs and be in a position to win the Western Conference, and ultimately the USL Championship!” Wyss asserted.
Wyss and the Orange County front office signed several talented players to blend into the roster with key returning players. Individuals like Christopher Cortez, Christofer Ramirez, Didier Crettenand, Denzel Slager, and Brenton Griffiths have taken their turns in the spotlight, but Wyss credits the ability to play cohesively as a team as the root cause for the team’s rise to the top.
“We have a team of coaches and players that work together as a unit to accomplish our goal! Nobody is bigger than the team, and we all believe and support each other on a daily basis. We respect and prepare diligently for every opponent, but we don’t fear anybody,” said Wyss.
It is going to take an extraordinary team effort for the Blues to best their SoCal counterparts on Saturday evening. Orange County has never claimed victory against Los Dos, including two losses and a draw so far this season. A win would bring the Blues level with LA at 42 points in the standings, one shy of the current pace for the conference championship.
Wyss said, “We have been playing some of our best soccer the last few weeks and are looking forward to welcoming LA Galaxy II to our home field on Saturday. We are preparing the team accordingly, and the players are ready for the first OC Blues win in history versus LA Galaxy II.”
Soccer fans prepared to witness history and watch the Blues continue marching toward a championship can purchase tickets through the Blues’ website. If you are not within reasonable driving distance of Anteater Stadium, catch the live stream for free.