One of the area's local USL PRO teams, the Orange County Blues, have announced an open combine to find potential players, to be held Feb. 7-8 at Orange County Great Park in Irvine.
The Combine is open to those who register on a first-come, first-serve basis before Jan. 30 and pay $150. You can find more information on a blog page connected to the team, here.
The OC Blues are heading into their fifth season in USL PRO. They have a new coach for 2015, Oliver Wyss, after finishing 13th of 14 in 2014, which of course meant they missed the playoffs. The competition should be somewhat tougher this year, as the league has expanded to 24 teams, with seven of those newcomers direct subsidiaries of MLS clubs, and six independent start-ups (three teams in USL PRO last year -- Orlando City SC, Charlotte Eagles, and Dayton Dutch Lions -- have moved up or down in the league pyramid).
On one hand, the talent pool could be diluted with so many new teams entering the fray, but that also bodes well for theoretical trialists who attend the Blues' combine. On the flip side, we don't know how the MLS teams' USL PRO teams will treat the 3rd division competitively -- in other words, will they go all-out for wins, or use the games as little more than upgraded training for reserves? I suspect most teams will take the competition seriously, but we'll have to see how the season shakes out.
In the meantime, the Blues should be able to put everything they have into the coming season, after disbanding their very successful W-League team, the LA Blues, recently. The defending W-League champs had eight former players drafted into the NWSL on Friday.
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