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Three questions about Orange County SC heading into 2018 season

What can we expect from the new-look side?

Courtesy of Orange County SC.

Orange County SC will kick off their eighth season on Saturday when they host Phoenix Rising FC at Orange County Great Park. Ahead of the opener, let’s go over some of the big questions for the team in 2018.

Who will play for Orange County SC?

The obvious answer to this is “the players on the roster,” but that’s not quite what I mean. Like their MLS affiliate, Los Angeles Football Club, Orange County are entering the season with a small roster, although a late signing and loan spree is putting them beyond an 18-man complement. Flexibility is normal, but there are a lot of questions heading into the first game.

Of course, one way the roster could be bolstered is with loanees, especially from LAFC. With the MLS side on a bye until the end of the month, will we see a few players drive down the road and suit up for Orange County in the meantime? And which players, if any, will spend significant time with OCSC this year? Fans of both OC and LAFC will likely be very curious about how the affiliate partnership shakes out this season with both teams active.

How will Orange County SC play under Braeden Cloutier?

Orange County are officially on their fourth head coach in three seasons. However, new man in charge Braeden Cloutier has the benefit of several years as OC assistant coach, so this shouldn’t be a situation where the new coach needs time to get his ideas going with the team.

Still, OC have kind of tried different styles of play, with mostly different rosters, the past few years. Under Oliver Wyss, Orange County played to score early and then sit on the lead for the rest of the game, to considerable success, while Barry Venison opted for more of a consistent approach for 90 minutes. Logan Pause tried to play a stylish passing game, which worked well enough until lack of squad depth left way too many holes in the lineup. What will Cloutier look to do? We’ll get the first glimpse on Saturday.

Can Orange County find consistency for a full season?

It seems clear from the signings so far this offseason that while OCSC haven’t dispatched with the development mandate that all USL teams are supposed to be carrying out in regard to younger players, they have looked to add more experience, both from international players and those with prior USL experience. It’s a matter of seeing if the disparate parts will mesh and become a coherent team, of course, but the offseason signings seem to indicate that a lack of experience overall last year was one contributing factor to the lack of consistency during the campaign.

Another factor was OC’s brutal schedule, with the slate backloaded in the late summer to accommodate the opening of their permanent stadium at Orange County Great Park. Lack of depth and fixture congestion late doomed their playoff hopes. This season, that shouldn’t be a problem, as they’ve settled into their home and have more or less a “normal” schedule for the season.

Still, with so many teams in USL, and the general ambition of most of those teams raising the level across the league, can Orange County remain consistent enough to pick up points and be competitive this season? That’s the question coming into every season, of course, but until we see a few games it will hang in the air for the 2018 edition of this Orange County SC side.

What do you think? Leave a comment below!