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OC Blues sign defender Matt Sheldon, part ways with midfielder Pavle Popara

A newcomer bolsters the defense, while a stalwart heads back to Europe.

Sheldon in action for his new team.
Courtesy of OC Blues FC

The Orange County Blues announced two roster moves this week. The first was the signing of defender Matt Sheldon. The right back, recently having played for the Blues U-23 PDL side, before that came from a short stint playing for German sixth-tier side SG Kinzenbach.

The UC Davis product made his debut for the Blues in USL last week against Sacramento Republic, where he went the full match.

"I’m very excited to be joining the Blues and am looking forward to working hard every day to help the team win," said Sheldon in a team statement on the signing.

In other news, veteran midfielder Pavle Popara has departed the club, by mutual consent, according to a team release from Thursday. According to the release, Popara wanted to return to his family in Serbia.

It turns out Popara has joined a new team, former club Radnicki Nis, and discussed his departure back on July 4, telling the Serbian team’s website that although he enjoyed living in Southern California, the quality of USL was "not the quality of where I want to play and where I could get ahead." He followed that up by saying the Blues were surprised by his request to exit the club.

All told, Popara scored five goals and three assists from a box-to-box midfielder position in 23 appearances across two seasons. He was a key contributor during his time with the team and took his turn leading the Blues to a couple of results. As for his comments about the level of the league, it’s not really a big surprise overall — some players settle in and others don’t. And for a developmental league, of course some of the better players will opt to move away for a higher standard of play, that’s not really a mystery. I think Popara acquitted himself well during his time in USL, and seemed to have handled his departure in a reasonable way, too.

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