Max Rauhofer was among the raft of players signed late in the season by the Orange County Blues, tasked with helping to turn the team's fortunes around and help them qualify for the playoffs. They did, and Rauhofer did his part, scoring three goals between the regular season and playoffs in limited minutes.
Rauhofer was a known quantity to the Blues, having been on conference foe Real Monarchs in 2015. The big Uruguayan seemed like a player who was being given a chance to light up USL before possibly making the jump to MLS with Real Salt Lake, but nine goals in 17 games didn't blow USL up, so he moved on after the season.
Obviously, that scoring return is pretty decent in USL terms, but margins are thin, especially at many MLS2 teams where player development is forefront, and it appeared RSL's braintrust didn't think Rauhofer was going to make the step up. So he went to Argentine lower-division side Guillermo Brown before coming back to the U.S. and signing with Orange County in mid-August.
Here were Rauhofer's statistics with the Blues in 2016:
|Games Played||Games Started||Minutes||Goals||Assists||Shots||SOG||Yellow Cards||Red Cards|
|USL Regular Season||6||1||201||2||0||8||5||0||0|
|U.S. Open Cup||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
After scoring in his debut against Portland Timbers 2, Rauhofer notched two more goals, the last one coming in the Blues' final game of the season, the extra time loss to Swope Park Rangers. In fact, Rauhofer kept hope alive for OC in that game, notching the equalizer to send the game to extra time, before the Blues gave up a shorthanded goal to 9-man SPR. Still, Rauhofer seemed to have the knack for coming off the bench and making an impact, and three goals in 261 total minutes is a good return.
Rauhofer is 26 and seems like a good striker at USL level. Could he return in 2017? That's unclear at the moment, as Orange County have yet to announce any roster moves, although there are no indications the Uruguayan has signed for any other team, here or abroad, as of the day this was written. It seems like a team could do worse than Rauhofer, but with the Blues not yet announcing moves, it is possible another team could swoop in for him for next season. Stay tuned.
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