Brenton Griffiths may not have been new to the Orange County Blues in 2015, but he emerged in a major way in his second season with the club.
A midseason addition in 2014 after being cut by the Colorado Rapids, the defender didn't get a great deal of playing time right away, but after getting his feet under him with the Southern California team, the Jamaican became the rock of OC's backline last season, as the Blues completed their best season in their history.
Here were Griffiths' statistics in 2015:
|Games Played||Games Started||Minutes||Goals||Assists||Shots||SOG||Yellow Cards||Red Cards|
|USL Regular Season||26||26||2,234||3||1||10||7||6||2|
|U.S. Open Cup||1||1||90||0||0||0||0||0||0|
Put simply, Griffiths was as close to an automatic start as anyone on the team, playing the third-most minutes and playing the second-most games in regular season play. Aside from his two red cards and subsequent suspensions, he would have likely played every minute on the season.
And for a team and league where squad rotation is basically compulsory, especially with road trips that include two games in three days, playing Griffiths so often indicated just how essential he was on the team in 2015. And his impact was rewarded with a 2015 USL All-League 2nd Team selection.
The Blues were remarkably balanced, and so selecting an MVP is a tough ask, but it's no coincidence Griffiths was the only player on the team to get year-end recognition despite the team's performance, and he's definitely one of the top candidates.
So the big question is whether he'll return in 2016. There's been no word from the team yet, and I would imagine that Griffiths would have a real market around either the USL or NASL, which could potentially complicate matters in the Blues bringing him back. Plus, with Griffiths' most consistent partner at center back in 2015, Beto Navarro, moving on to a new club, making sure there's continuity with Griffiths is even more important. That said, continuity is not a hallmark of USL teams at this point, so we'll have to wait and see if he'll be back. Of course, seeing Griffiths team up with USL Goalkeeper of the Year Brandon Miller at the back would be a pretty tasty proposition for Blues fans.
But we'll see how it shakes out. For now, it's worth admiring a fantastic season by Griffiths with the OC Blues.
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