Of the group of rookies who joined the Orange County Blues in 2015, the fact that Ryan Felix joined in June may have seemed like a disadvantage.
He didn't have a preseason camp to get used to his new team, following a collegiate career at nearby Loyola Marymount. But like fellow former Lions teammates and rookies Jack McCracken and Billy Thompson, Felix slotted in basically right away in Orange County coach Oliver Wyss' system and became a fixture in the lineup.
Billed as a defender, Felix actually played most of his minutes in defensive midfield, although he sometimes moved to the backline when substitutions were made during games. But it was easy to see why Wyss was giving him so much time, as he had the size and skill to stick in USL right away, breaking up opponents' attacks but also helping to spring counters and shut up shop when the Blues took a lead, the strategy they hit upon late in the season that worked.
Here were Felix's statistics with the Blues in 2015:
|Games Played||Games Started||Minutes||Goals||Assists||Shots||SOG||Yellow Cards||Red Cards|
|USL Regular Season||14||9||793||0||0||4||1||3||0|
|U.S. Open Cup||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
All in all, it was a successful first season for Felix, as he weathered the tough stretch in the summer when OC slumped and sunk down the standings to remain in the lineup for the later part of the season. Many of the other young newcomers did not persist in the lineup like he did, so credit to him for showing his quality in bad times and good.
Barring some kind of interest on a larger stage, something I'm not aware of either way, Felix seems like an absolute no-brainer to bring back for the Blues in 2016. I don't really know if he's capable of making a leap up to MLS beyond being a squad player at this point, and another season in USL, at least, should help his development and give a more complete picture of his potential as a pro. And consider the potential that he could have more competition if he does return to the Blues next year, if Wyss goes out and signs other players at his position. We've seen other players be regulars prior to the Wyss era and drop off this year -- so even if he returns next season I wouldn't necessarily write his name on the lineup sheet in pen, at least at this point.
Still, like I said, Felix merits a return to the club next season. He may have been a late arrival to the club, but he played well and seemed to have a lot to offer on a successful team. And that could make him a building block for the team moving forward.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!