Grady Howe was a rookie with the Orange County Blues in 2016, a well-regarded midfielder from UCLA who was staying local to launch his professional career. When he was signed, Howe made a point of referencing his OC roots in joining the Blues, and it seemed like despite being a rookie, given his pedigree he would quickly slot into the squad and likely even become a regular option.
That's not exactly how it turned out. Howe only made seven appearances for the club this year, across all competitions, with six of those seven games happening in May and June.
Here were Howe's statistics with the Blues in 2016:
|Games Played||Games Started||Minutes||Goals||Assists||Shots||SOG||Yellow Cards||Red Cards|
|USL Regular Season||6||3||276||0||0||1||0||1||0|
|U.S. Open Cup*||1||1||0||1||1|
*I have been trying to track down 2016 U.S. Open Cup stats for the Blues. When I get them, I will fill them in the players' stats.
The high point, on some level, has to be the goal Howe scored in the Open Cup, which is kind of a shame since only the people at the stadium that night saw the game and the Blues lost the game in a penalty shootout. Still, he did notch a goal on the season.
Howe's final appearance of the season came in a road game in August, when he came off the bench for the very end of the game. Of course, the Blues scored deep in stoppage time of that game, against Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2, and grabbed an unlikely win, so even if he didn't play a lot, it must have been an exciting moment to be part of.
As ever, it's difficult to tell whether Howe suffered from injuries in 2016, limiting his time on the field, or if he was not in Oliver Wyss and Barry Venison's plans. Regardless, the expectations for a solid rookie campaign, for whatever reason, do not appear to have been fulfilled. Why that happened is hard to say from the outside.
What the future holds for the midfielder is also uncertain. He has not been announced as a signing by any other USL team yet, and given his limited minutes, it's unclear if the Blues (remember, they will have a new head coach) would be interested in bringing him back. All in all, it didn't turn out to be a great rookie season, but who knows what the future holds for Howe in soccer.
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