This is one of those days when we either normally don't worry too much about soccer (or alternately, flip mindlessly through the TV channels hoping to find a soccer game on because dammit, we need our fix), but 'tis the season to make wish lists, and we've got a few items for the teams we cover for the year ahead.
1. See LAFC get to physical work on their stadium project
It's a complicated matter, lining up the many permissions needed for the stadium where the Sports Arena is now located, so it's essential the MLS expansion club takes care of that before they actually start work on building the stadium. But with President and co-owner Tom Penn highlighting May 2016 as the target when the club will take over the location, here's hoping we see shovels in the ground, the Sports Arena demolished and the site cleaned out, and actual construction underway sooner than later. More than likely, 2016 will be taken up with tearing down the Sports Arena and removing the debris, but the faster the club gets to physically work on the site, the greater the chances they'll be ready for the 2018 season.
2. Witness the establishment of LAFC's academy
LAFC's first soccer hire, John Thorrington, said his top priority was to set up the club's academy. If they can get teams formed for the 2016-17 USSDA season, even if they start at the younger levels and gradually build out the program, they'll be in good shape for creating a pipeline of prospects for the senior team. With a handful of established MLS academies, including the nearby LA Galaxy's, signing academy players to MLS or USL contracts in unprecedented numbers, time is of the essence for LAFC in trying to gain a foothold in the local youth soccer scene.
3. A first playoff win for the Orange County Blues
The Blues are coming off their best-ever season, with a coach who seems to be the real deal. 2015 may have ended on a sour note in losing their lone playoff game, to the local rivals no less, but if the Blues can reach the playoffs again in 2016 and take a step forward in winning at least one playoff game, the monkey may finally be off their back and they could establish themselves as a real force for years to come in USL.
4. A stadium of the OC Blues' own
Technical Director Barry Venison mentioned a stadium project at Irvine's Great Park in an interview, where the Blues would have a stadium of their own. The club refused to comment on the comments and no subsequent chatter has produced any movement on such a proposal, which is a shame. For as many college and high school stadiums as there are around Southern California that are fine as minor league soccer venues, scheduling conflicts like the one that required the Blues' home playoff game ultimately be moved to the opponent's venue demonstrates that the Blues just really need a home of their own, with amenities for players and fans alike. And getting a home for the Blues would help the club get a much-needed feeling of finding a home, which would hopefully also shut up speculation that the club's future is in doubt, something that comes up regularly under the current situation.
What's your Christmas wish? Let us know in the comments section below!