Amidst a week of news for the newly-branded USL, local team Orange County Blues got down to preseason training camp and played their first game ahead of the 2015 season.
Following their open tryout last weekend, two players, midfielder Nikola Ilich and defender Steven Lamberta, who attended the tryout made the cut into the Blues' training camp this week, according to the club. Both players, California natives, are 22, with Ilich playing collegiately at Vanguard University, while Lamberta played for the University of Central Florida, a program known for producing professional players in recent years.
Neither player has been announced as a signing at present, so they are apparently still on trial. The club indicated that more player signing announcements would be forthcoming ahead of the March 28 season opener.
In other news, the Blues played their first game against another team in 2015, as they hosted MLS side Real Salt Lake in Irvine on Thursday, losing to the visitors 1-0. The goal for RSL came in the 54th minute from Lucas Baldin, a late round draft pick of the club this year.
The game was divided into three 30-minute periods, as is the vogue often early in the preseason. Both teams used unsigned players and trialists extensively, as this tweet from the Blues indicates:
Starting XI: Perez, Turner, Griffiths, Suggs, Trialist #5, Barron, Trialist #7, Trialist #10, Trialist #2, Cortez, C. Santana. #OCB #USL— OC Blues FC (@OCBluesFC) February 12, 2015
Among the reactions to the game came this from the Blues' Christopher Santana: "I think the game went well. We have only been together for four days, but I think our defensive shape was really exceptional. We got broken down when they scored on us but we will have more structure in the back as we move forward."
If you're interested in checking out the highlights, we've got you covered. Of note, a Blues player picked up two yellow cards, though since nobody made mention of it in their recaps, I guess they ignored that fact and didn't play down a man for the rest of the game:
The Blues will play their next preseason game against Cal State Fullerton next week.
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