Three more signings were announced by local USL side Orange County Blues FC on Wednesday, to help fill out blanks in the roster. And all three players have already featured for the team, in the 2015 season opener last weekend.
Defender Alberto "Beto" Navarro joins the club from the NASL, having played for FC Edmonton last season and the Atlanta Silverbacks from 2012-14. The 26-year-old played collegiately at Cal State Bakersfield, and was part of Eric Wynalda's famous Cal FC amateur side that made an improbable run in the 2012 U.S. Open Cup. He was also part of the Silverbacks' 2013 Soccer Bowl final appearance, where they fell to the New York Cosmos.
Navarro started and went the distance for the Blues last weekend against Arizona United SC in the center of defense, and will likely see plenty of action on the field this season.
The second signing by Orange County, forward Amani Walker, comes back to Southern California after playing for the Tampa Bay Rowdies the last two years and before that, another NASL side, Minnesota Stars FC (now known as Minnesota United FC, the newest announced MLS expansion team) from 2011-12. Walker played his college ball at UC Irvine and is a San Diego native. With Minnesota he won the NASL championship in 2011.
The 25-year-old Walker is also a one-time Jamaica youth international, and made his debut off the bench for the Blues against AZ United.
Finally, the Blues also announced the addition of midfielder Nikola Ilich. The Vista, California native played collegiately at Vanguard University, before heading to Europe to see what his prospects might be. It appears he didn't latch onto a club over there, however, and participated in the Blues' open tryout ahead of the season, making the cut for preseason camp and eventually earning a pro deal. Ilich made his professional debut on Saturday, coming off the bench for the final 27 minutes of the match.
With these latest signings, the Blues have 21 players on their roster at present. Although there's always movement over the course of the season, one figures this is the group Oliver Wyss will attempt to build some success with this year.
OC have this week off, before hosting the Vancouver Whitecaps 2 on Sunday, Apr. 12 at Anteater Stadium. The "ThunderCaps," as our SB Nation colleagues Eighty Six Forever have nicknamed them, beat the Austin Aztex 3-0 on the road for their first-ever win Wednesday night.
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