Professional Sports in the Heart of Irvine
Growing up in Irvine, I never viewed it as the home of a professional sports team. Frankly, many of us locals aren’t aware that there is a venue large enough to host a professional sports franchise. Orange County Soccer Club is setting out to change this perception and bring professional sports to a city that thrives on fandom and athleticism.
In 2011, Orange County became part of a new national sports phenomenon. It became one of the 12 founding teams of the new United Soccer League (USL). For those who are not caught up on your soccer terminology, USL is one of the most well-known Division 2 professional soccer leagues in the world. Positioned directly below Major League Soccer, USL is helping fuel the growth of professional soccer across North America and the world.
After playing as the Orange County Blues for six years, in 2017 the team was bought and rebranded by James Keston, the Chief Investment Officer of LARO Properties. Keston’s goal was to develop a professional sports team that focused on its fans, players and youth soccer clubs in Orange County. With the arrival of Keston also came a new team name, the Orange County Blues turned into the Orange County Soccer Club (OCSC). Along with a new team name came a new state-of-the-art sports facility and stadium at the Great Park in Irvine for home games and practices. The Sports Complex Soccer Stadium is now the official home base for OCSC and their fans.
The Sports Complex Soccer Stadium is the ultimate spot for you to become an OCSC fan. With seating for 5,000, it gives the community the ultimate professional sports team experience. During OCSC games, spectators can expect to have a full fan zone, including food trucks, a beer garden and family-friendly games and inflatable fun. OCSC makes every game a fun experience, including themed game nights, family nights, military nights and nights that support local community organizations. The stadium even blows out orange smoke every time a goal is scored. Truth be told, an OCSC game might be one of the best kept secrets in Orange County.
Now that you know where to catch a game, let’s introduce you to some key players.
OCSC is composed of about 25 players with an average age of 24 years old. Their captain for the 2019 season is mid-fielder Aodhan Quinn. Quinn is a Southern California native who is a pivotal member of OCSC and in 2018 was a league MVP finalist. Another player to cheer on this season is goalkeeper Aaron Cervantes. Cervantes is a local kid who has been tearing up the soccer field from an early age. At age 15, he became one of the youngest players in USL league history to sign a professional contract.
There is also forward Michael Seaton, who previously played for the Jamaican national team and is a force to be reckoned with on the field. He is not only fast, but he is a vital goal-scorer, having scored over 15 goals in his professional career. Lastly, I want to introduce you to a new member of the OCSC, English professional player Harry Forrester. Forrester previously played for one of the biggest clubs in the Scottish Premier League. As a midfielder, Forrester will bring a great deal of strength and skill to the 2019 season.
OCSC’s 2018 season was a success on and off the field, as the team placed first out of 17 teams in the Western Conference. They then went on to the playoffs where they fell just short of winning a USL championship. Despite the loss, this is just the beginning for the team. The team’s motto of “Pathway to Professional” is allowing for the best of the best to come and play for the team. Whether they are a rising 16-year-old player or a 29-year-old veteran getting his second chance, OCSC is finding a way to dominate the USL.
Orange County is a hotbed for young professional athletes and is considered one of the top recruiting spots for both men’s and women’s soccer, which is why it is so important to have a local professional team. OCSC represents a pathway for young athletes to not only root for a local professional team but gives top young players and club teams the opportunity to train with the professionals. Being the only professional soccer team between Orange County and Tijuana, OCSC is providing an avenue for young soccer players to have their chance at stardom.
As the 2019 season begins, OCSC is concentrating on bringing the community together. With their growing fan base and fan zone, home games are becoming the new hot-spot for family-friendly nights out and even a place to grab a beer during their annual brew festival. As OCSC continues to grow, their goal is not only to be one of the best USL teams in the league but to provide a space for the ultimate community night out. The team is also giving back to our Orange County community by partnering with Hoag Hospital and the Alzheimer’s Association.
OCSC will kick off their season on Saturday, March 16 at 7:00 p.m. at the Great Park. Watch them dominate their season from March through October with 17 home games usually held on Saturday nights. You can see them take on their Phoenix rivals on May 4, or catch the game on June 9 when they will be playing the USL L.A. Galaxy team. With so many games, there is no excuse not to go and cheer them on! OCSC even offers group stadium tours, meet the player sessions and opportunities to be a part of the game and play on the field.
Become a fan and be a part of the best-kept secret in Orange County. You can visit orangecountysoccer.com to buy your tickets for your first home game and keep up with the team through their social media pages. Follow OCSC on Instagram at @orangecountysoccer or on Twitter at Orange County Soccer Club.
See you at the first home game!