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Orange County Blues 2016 Player Postmortem: Christopher Santana

Versatile attacking midfielder was a role player in third season.

Santana (No. 7) in the mix for OC.
Courtesy of USL.

Christopher Santana was one of the grizzled veterans of the Orange County Blues in 2016, one of just two players to have been around longer than the Oliver Wyss-Barry Venison combo at the club. Only 23 years old at the start of the season, Santana seemed poised to break out, finally, in 2016, after hints at his big game potential for years.

In 2015, his second season with the Blues, Santana got more reps over the course of the campaign, and became a regular starter by season’s end, capable of doing something of a wing-playmaker role, providing set piece service, and chipping in with a few goals and assists. Given how that season went, did he move onward and upward last season?

Not exactly. Santana didn’t actually feature for the Blues until mid-June, meaning it was pretty much certain he was derailed by an injury or two to start the season. And while he got minutes once the summer rolled around, the impact was rather muted compared to the previous season.

Santana 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 15 14 967 0 1 14 3 0 0
USL Playoffs 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
U.S. Open Cup*
Total 15 14 967 0 1 14 33 0 0

It did seem like Santana was playing a different role, to some extent, in 2016, tasked less with the dead ball and playmaker roles out wide and more asked to be a winger. I think given his track record, he can play on the wing, but he seems better suited as an inverted winger or someone given a larger set-up role out wide for his teammates, rather than providing a two-way game out wide.

Santana’s age and experience indicate he has time in the professional game on his side, and while 2016 was not his best season, it’s still tantalizing to say his full breakout could be right around the corner. Of Orange County’s 2016 roster, he’s one of the handful of players who still seems to have the most upside, but upside and full realization are two different things.

Given the obvious wholesale roster turnover happening for Orange County this offseason, we’re prepared to say Santana won’t be back, but if anyone could stick with the side, it might be him. He was a touted MLS prospect back in the day, and could be the kind of player given a season-long audition by LAFC to see if he can really push on and make the step up to MLS down the road. Or, he could be out the door with seemingly everyone else. Who knows. Either way, we hope Santana has another act left in his career, no matter where he winds up.

What do you think? Leave a comment below!