2015 was forward Tyler Feeley's rookie season. Like many of the rookies on the Orange County Blues' roster, Feeley didn't see a great deal of action his first year.
Of course, the Arizona native was the youngest player on the Blues' squad, at just 18 and out of the Development Academy from the well-regarded Real Salt Lake-Arizona program. And while the USL is about player development, Orange County being without the same player development imperatives as most teams in the league meant players like Feeley were consigned to substitute duty this year.
On the bright side, Feeley was fairly efficient in the minutes he did see, scoring one goal and adding an assist in 135 minutes across all competitions. It seems unlikely that he would maintain that pace if he played, say, 1,000 minutes, but it was a promising start.
|Games Played||Games Started||Minutes||Goals||Assists||Shots||SOG||Yellow Cards||Red Cards|
|USL Regular Season||7||0||98||0||1||1||0||0||0|
|U.S. Open Cup||1||0||9||1||0||1||1||0||0|
Feeley's goal came as a late consolation goal in the Blues' Open Cup loss to PSA Elite, and while PSA is an amateur team many or all of the players Orange County faced in that game were older than the teenager, so that's still a fair yardstick for his career. And his assist to Denzel Slager in a win over Arizona United in August showed he was able to make an impact coming off the bench in league play. He did score a goal in the Blues' playoff game, but it was ultimately called back and didn't count in that loss.
Truth be told, Feeley was probably destined to see limited minutes this year, between his inexperience at the pro level and the attacking depth ahead of him, with Christofer Ramirez and Chris Cortez established starters, and the likes of Slager, David Estrada and Amani Walker ahead of him on the depth chart in attacking positions.
But Feeley was part of a group that had a successful season in 2015, and he got valuable experience coming off the bench in 2015. Playing for a coach like Oliver Wyss, previously immersed in the youth soccer scene, means his development is still being cultivated on the training field, most likely. And with an independent USL team, he doesn't have to compete with loanees dropped in every so often, instead being part of a coherent squad where he can still get occasional looks on the field.
As with all players, the nature of USL means it's hard to know what Feeley's future holds. But he got a year of experience under his belt, and chances are he'll be gearing up for an expanded role on the field in 2016. If he builds on the promise of this year, his ceiling could ultimately be very high, indeed.
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