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Orange County Blues 2016 Player Postmortem: Verneri Valimaa

Midfielder played more games than ever before in his pro career.

Valimaa (L) in action with the Blues.
Nick Smith/Swope Park Rangers (via Flickr)

Verneri Valimaa joined the Orange County Blues ahead of the 2016 season as a mostly unknown quantity. The Finnish-American midfielder had primarily grown up in the U.S., played collegiate soccer for George Mason and the University of North Carolina, and embarked on a pro career in 2015 with the Tampa Bay Rowdies. The then-NASL side subsequently loaned Valimaa to the Blues for 2016.

On the bright side, he played by far the most games of his pro career to date in 2016, and was a regular option for the team throughout the season, both in a handful of starts and more often, coming off the bench.

Valimaa 2016 OC Blues statistics

2016 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
2016 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
USL Regular Season 22 9 955 0 1 2 0 0 0
USL Playoffs 1 0 21 0 0 0 0 0 0
U.S. Open Cup*
Total 23 9 976 0 1 2 0 0 0

On the other hand, Valimaa’s presence was typically pretty quiet when he was on the field. Clearly not a player meant to grab the spotlight, he may have blended into the background a little too much. There’s no question he did a job, mostly carrying water in midfield and supporting his teammates, whether it was Didier Crettenand in attack or Ivan Mirkovic in defense. But when reflecting on standout moments, Valimaa didn’t have many prime candidates. Is it possible his play was so subtle that it basically went unnoticed? Yes, certainly. But the lack of memorable points may be a detriment in finding future opportunities, fair or not.

Given the slew of players who have departed the team so far this offseason and the fact that Valimaa was on a loan (and his parent club is now playing in USL) I’m going to go out on a limb and say he probably won’t be back in Orange County for 2017. You never know, but I wouldn’t hold my breath for his return.

What do you think? Leave a comment below!