Milton Blanco was an experienced midfielder who started the season with Arizona United SC, facing off against the Orange County Blues more than once in 2015.
And then, he was unceremoniously cut by Arizona midseason and picked up by the Blues immediately. The one-time Chivas USA player had bounced around, playing in the USL and NASL for a variety of teams, featuring for FC Edmonton before signing with Arizona. Of course, the question with Blanco's dismissal, publicly stated as a violation of team rules, could have put off some teams, but it did not stop Oliver Wyss from taking a chance on him, and it paid off immediately.
Here were Blanco's stats with the Blues in 2015:
|Games Played||Games Started||Minutes||Goals||Assists||Shots||SOG||Yellow Cards||Red Cards|
|USL Regular Season||10||10||873||0||0||2||0||3||0|
|U.S. Open Cup||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
Put simply, once Blanco joined the Blues he was a fixture in the lineup, one of the midseason acquisitions, most notably alongside David Estrada, who revived OC as they were sputtering midseason and helped the team finish the season atop the Western Conference.
With experience, an ability to play the canny physical game in midfield to cover the defense and help free up the attackers, Blanco's addition was immediately effective, and he slotted in well. And given how much Wyss relied on him in the lineup, it's pretty apparent the 31-year-old did not fall afoul of disciplinary issues, and pushed on from the Arizona stint very quickly.
Given the way veterans and youngsters, those experienced in American pro soccer and leagues around the world came together on the Blues this year, Blanco was clearly a "glue guy" in more ways than one and I would imagine he'll be welcomed back in 2016. Of course, the Fresno native has moved around quite a bit, so maybe with the number of expansion teams joining USL he'll get offers elsewhere. But player and team seemed to come together in 2015, and it seems obvious that he should be back in blue in 2016, since he was one of the best additions on a team full of them in 2015. In the meantime, we'll have to wait for word on if Blanco will be patrolling the midfield in OC next year again or not.
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