You’ve probably heard the expression "the season is a roller coaster" hundreds, possibly thousands of times, or at least some variation of the phrase. It’s one of the standard answers all athletes give to media. With the Orange County Blues, though, it could be taken literally.
During the last two seasons, the Blues' results have largely mimicked any roller coaster you’d find at Disneyland. In 2014, OC started off cold. In the first seven games of the 28-game season, the Blues went 2-5. The next seven, they went 4-3. The third seven, they went 2-5. And they finished the season with another dive at 1-5-1. One draw in all of 2014 really put OC at a disadvantage, leaving a number of points on the table.
In 2015, even with a much better record, there were still peaks and valleys. They started off decent at 4-3, and followed that up with a 1-5-1. After the halfway point in the season, they went 3-2-2, and closed out a remarkable season with a 4-1-2 mark.
Fun, right? Oh, the ups and the downs. Now it’s time to take a look at OC’s 2016 schedule, and see if we can guess how things will turn out. Since USL has added two games to make it a 30-game schedule, we’ll split it up into two groups of eight and two groups of seven.
- Mar 26 HOME vs Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2
- Apr 02 HOME vs Saint Louis FC
- Apr 08 AWAY: at LA Galaxy II
- Apr 16 HOME: vs San Antonio FC
- Apr 20 HOME: vs Portland Timbers 2
- Apr 30 AWAY: at Sacramento Republic FC
- May 08 HOME: vs Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
- May 14 HOME: vs Arizona United SC
The first quarter of the season is almost entirely at home, and the Blues don’t even leave the state of California. The two away games at LA Galaxy II and Sacramento are going to be the biggest tests. It’s always a battle with Los Dos, and Sacramento is definitely looking for revenge after the Blues defeated them at Bonney Field last season. Add in the fact that this is a new season with new players still adjusting to playing with each other, so while it may not be perfect at the beginning, OC will still come out alright.
- May 21 AWAY: at Real Monarchs SLC
- May 27 AWAY: at Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
- Jun 04 HOME: vs Seattle Sounders FC 2
- Jun 11 AWAY: at Arizona United SC
- Jun 18 HOME: vs Real Monarchs SLC
- Jun 23 AWAY: at San Antonio FC
- Jun 26 AWAY: at Rio Grande Valley FC
- Jul 02 AWAY: at LA Galaxy II
Looking at the 2nd quarter, it’s almost the exact opposite of the first, with six of the eight matches on the road. The match at Colorado Springs sticks out, as well as another away match at Los Dos. However, the players should be starting to gel at this point in the season, so a slight improvement seems likely.
- Jul 10 HOME: vs Sacramento Republic FC
- Jul 16 AWAY: at OKC Energy FC
- Jul 23 AWAY: at Swope Park Rangers KC
- Jul 30 HOME: vs LA Galaxy II
- Aug 04 AWAY: at Tulsa Roughnecks FC
- Aug 07 HOME: vs Arizona United SC
- Aug 10 AWAY: Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2
Alright, getting close to the home stretch here. This is the part of the season when OC really hits their stride, and win games that you wouldn’t normally think they would. Even with some tough matches, this is a great quarter for Orange County, and it helps solidify a playoff spot.
- Aug 14 AWAY: at Portland Timbers 2
- Aug 20 HOME: vs LA Galaxy II
- Aug 24 HOME: vs Sacramento Republic FC
- Sep 03 AWAY: at Sacramento Republic FC
- Sep 09 AWAY: at Real Monarchs SLC
- Sep 17 HOME: vs Rio Grande Valley FC
- Sep 24 HOME: vs Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC
It’s always more desirable to finish the season at home. Orange County is historically better at home than on the road, and now that it’s crunch time in the campaign, it’s really time to turn it on. The crystal ball says Blues play their best stretch of the season, saving it for the very end.
And there you have it. A breakdown of the entire 2016 Orange County Blues season, and predictions of how they’ll fare in those stretches. The combined record predicted is 17-7-6, which would give them 57 points. Last season, the Blues finished atop the Western Conference with 47 points, but with two less games overall.
Lofty predictions? Tell us what you think in the comments!