Jefrey Payeras' season with the Orange County Blues was one of fits and starts, in a sense.
The defender, who grew up in Hawthorne, had signed a pro deal with Guatemalan powerhouse Municipal but hadn't quite broken through, and the club sent him on loan to the Blues in a move officially announced in mid-May.
Payeras had a stretch in which he played pretty regularly for the Blues during the summer, getting in a run from mid-June until the beginning of August. His size and apparent versatility made him a depth option at center back and he got some run at full back as well.
But the stint where he played corresponded to Orange County's major slump, and the 22-year-old never appeared on the field again for OC after he was called to the Guatemala U-23s in August. That team went to play in the pre-Olympic qualifying tournament in Central America, where they fell at the last hurdle in a home-and-away playoff against Costa Rica, that would have sent them to the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament.
Altogether, that camp and tournament lasted most of the month of August, and by the time it was over the Blues were cruising, only losing one regular season game in their final 12. Orange County head coach Oliver Wyss tightened up his rotation and perhaps unsurprisingly, Payeras was outside the core group.
Here are Payeras' statistics with the Blues in 2015:
|Games Played||Games Started||Minutes||Goals||Assists||Shots||SOG||Yellow Cards||Red Cards|
|USL Regular Season||9||9||733||0||2||4||2||2||0|
|U.S. Open Cup||1||1||81||0||0||0||0||0||0|
Since he was technically on loan with the Blues, there's no indication Payeras would necessarily return in 2016 anyway. But I suspect he may have an opportunity to sign a new deal away from Municipal, either in Guatemala or the U.S., and it's entirely possible he could return to the club.
As a still-young player, it's conceivable Payeras' development has not ended, and he could still improve. I did not think he looked bad in his time on the field (though again, the results weren't great, though it wasn't all on him), but he didn't really distinguish himself, either. And while it's nice to see a player get international call-ups, he was the only player on the team to get called away, and from a club perspective, that probably set him back on the depth chart for Wyss. So it was a double-edged sword for him. In the short-term, it may have hurt his club prospects, but it could pay off in the long run, perhaps. And we'll have to see if he'll be back in the OC next year.
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