The Orange County Blues have made a couple of rather significant moves this week, on both the player and front office side of things.
First, the club announced on Tuesday the signing of Serbian midfielder Pavle Popara, who actually made his debut for the club this past Saturday in the 2-2 draw against OKC Energy FC, where he set up OC's second goal. Popara, 28, has spent his entire club career until the move to the Blues in Europe, with Partizan Belgrade, Greek sides Apollon Kalamarias and Panetolikos, Cypriot team Enosis Neon Paralimni, Bulgarian club Slavia Sofia, Polish team Pogon Szczecin, and back home to Serbian side Radnicki Nis.
"I'm very excited to add a player of Popara's caliber and experience. His professionalism will have a huge impact on and off the field for the OC Blues," said Blues Head Coach Oliver Wyss in a team statement on the signing.
Meanwhile, midfielder Junior Burgos, an in-season signing for the Blues, quickly departed the club and already joined his next team, NASL side Atlanta Silverbacks. The Salvadoran international did not record any goals or assists in four league appearances for the Blues this season.
In other news, the Blues announced on Wednesday that assistant coach Barry Venison has been promoted to club Technical Director by Wyss, effective immediately. The club release says that Venison, a former England international who played for Sunderland, Liverpool, Newcastle, Galatasaray and Southampton, will "be responsible for player and team development."
Venison offered comment on the appointment in a team release: "I am very excited about my role with OC Blues FC as this franchise is at the beginning of a new and very bright dawn. It's my pleasure to be part of the team and working with such dedicated and driven professionals. I have had the good fortune to enjoy much success in my life and I know what it takes to rise to the very top. It is my purpose to help the coaching staff improve the players and the team in as many ways as possible so that OC Blues FC can fulfill its vast potential. I am working with first class coaches, an ambitious and supportive owner in Mr. Mansouri, a motivated group of quality players and in a Southern Californian climate that is second to none...what more can I say?"
The Blues, currently in their first season with Wyss as head coach, sit in the final playoff spot in the Western Conference at present with 11 games left in the regular season. Their next match is Thursday evening against LA Galaxy II at the StubHub Center complex.
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