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New OC Blues owner previously linked to MLS bid

Options in Seattle, Portland explored.

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at Portland Timbers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Cast your mind back to 2007. MLS is a far different league, and it predates the inclusion of both the Seattle Sounders and the Portland Timbers, two teams that have become juggernauts in the league on and off the field since entering MLS in 2009 and 2011, respectively.

It turns out, the new Orange County Blues majority owner was linked to a bid on an MLS team in Seattle or Portland back in the day.

An eagle-eyed follower on Twitter found an article from back in 2007 that identified James Keston, unveiled on Thursday as the OC Blues’ new owner, was linked to an MLS expansion bid, alongside his father Michael, according to a report from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer at the time.

As it turned out, that ultimately did not come to pass, as a group led by Adrian Hanauer and Joe Roth launched the MLS Sounders in 2009 and Merritt Paulson brought MLS to Portland two years later. Hanauer and Michael Keston were reportedly linked at one point, but subsequent history shows the parties went in different directions.

In the P-I story from 2007, James Keston was tabbed to “likely hold the top leadership role of a team owned by his dad.”

Now, as owner of a professional soccer team himself, James Keston has the opportunity to make his mark on the sport in the United States. Clearly, owning a USL team is not the same as owning an MLS club, and as opposed to the Cascadia teams, the OC Blues are not going to have the local limelight among the pro soccer clubs, with the established LA Galaxy and upcoming expansion team LAFC drawing far more attention.

At the same time, there’s no question Keston has the opportunity to carve out far more of a niche than the Blues have at present. He may not have gotten the MLS bid the first time around, but now he gets a project to mold as he wishes.

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