In preparation of the start of the USL season, the league's Twitter account has been doing polls on the social media site asking how many wins on the home or road various teams around the league will grab this year.
The Orange County Blues, who finished last season atop the Western Conference, and got nine home wins last season, were the topic of the poll last week. The results?
Poll time @OCBluesFC fans! The Blues had 9 home wins in 2015! How many will they have this season? ⚽️— USL (@USL) March 12, 2016
Nobody believes in the Blues!
Ok, that's not altogether true, since just under half of the respondents think they'll get at least five home wins. And it's not a scientific survey, since most of the respondents are likely fans of other teams, and so their opinions of the Blues are probably biased as a result.
And...we can say that even for those who are fairly balanced and follow USL very very closely, the volume and quality of players departing Orange County in the offseason could be concerning heading into the coming season, especially with barely enough players to fill out an XI announced with the season a little over a week away.
But, with all those caveats, there's really only one conclusion to be drawn from the results of this single poll: The OC Blues don't get any respect.
The fact that the club came in before the era of massive expansion in USL means they missed out on a lot of the hype new teams got the last few years. Add to that the irrefutable fact that OC's fanbase is small, even by USL standards, and many folks just have it out for this team anyway.
But for those who actually watched games, OC were usually a pretty fun team to watch by league standards last year. Yes, they could be physical, yes they often switched to defensive mode after taking a lead, but they balanced style and pragmatism to considerable success. And being an independent team based on the West Coast means many folks simply didn't watch them. To look at the stadium attendance, take a glance over the roster and not watch games and say, "Uh, pass!" is not fair. Their new coach took a team that was dire the year before and made them a relevant, even good, team.
The lesson here? I may discuss the broader issues in more detail later, but suffice it to say that the first thing OC needs to do this year is prove the haters wrong, again. Respect is earned, and maybe the Blues shouldn't be pegged as a terrible team heading into the season, but a track record of success over several seasons may finally turn the national tide against this team.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!