In the early weeks of the USL season, Orange County SC is laying the groundwork for what it hopes is the successful beginning of a new era.
Over the offseason, few clubs underwent changes to the extent of Orange County SC. Formerly the Orange County Blues, the club team signed a partnership with Los Angeles FC–the MLS expansion squad that will begin play next year–and later announced that it was becoming Orange County SC as part of a major rebranding effort. All of these changes followed the sale of the organization to James Keston, who was announced as the new owner last September.
More changes are on tap. A new stadium is currently under construction, but in the meantime, the club will utilize a temporary venue at Orange County Great Park.
Recent developments for Orange County SC leave club officials, including general manager and executive vice president of soccer operations Oliver Wyss, optimistic that this year will give the organization some momentum going forward. More from The OC Register:
“The Orange County Blues we had a special last two years,” Wyss said. “We had a very successful team on the field, but we never really connected with the community because the Blues didn’t really stand for anything.
“James felt very strongly and so did we as an organization that we are the club of Orange County, so we wanted to be the Orange County Soccer Club. Irvine is very centrally located in Orange County and this is a massive soccer destination, there are many soccer fields, plus the stadium, and we just felt that looking at all the options, this would be a perfect destination for us.”
Logan Pause joins the club this year as coach. Pause spent 12 years as a midfielder with the Chicago Fire (2003-2014) in Major League Soccer. He also served as the club’s vice president before heading out west.
“I’m grateful to be part of the project,” Pause said. “An important pillar within our organization is not only do we want to compete for championships and put on a good display of soccer, but we want to be reflective of Orange County and we want to be ingrained in the community, getting to know the different communities and schools and getting to create and show a dream to all the kids that are playing soccer that they can come up and have a pipeline to play at the top level.”
The club played its first home match of the season on Saturday, drawing a reported crowd 3,408 to the temporary stadium. The permanent new stadium is being constructed at Orange County Great Park.
Image of Orange County SC’s Oscar Sorto, taken April 22, 2017, courtesy Orange County SC.