Why has pro soccer not stuck in Orange County in the past?

There’s a commonly held belief by followers of soccer in this country that “Orange County can’t support a pro soccer team because it doesn’t support the OC Blues.” I say repeatedly to these commenters, mainly on social media or Reddit, that all attempts at pro soccer in Orange County in the past, and in modern times, have failed because they didn’t and don’t connect with the heart of soccer in the county, which is Santa Ana. Face it. The OC Blues are notorious for their less-than-desirable attendance, and this is how they’re viewed around the country in spite of their on field record, because they’ve never prioritized Santa Ana.

All attempts at pro soccer in Orange County have failed, for decades, because they’ve failed to connect and build community with the most important soccer city in the county, and one of the most important in Southern California, which is Santa Ana. The market is there, not suburban Orange County, South OC, Irvine, etc. I don’t know if it’s because the city is “too Mexican” for marketers and they don’t know how to capture it but it’s probably something along those lines.

The “Orange County Zodiac” of the A-League left Irvine and tried to establish themselves at Santa Ana Stadium in the 90s, but it was too late because both the USL and MLS were on the rise. They never had the chance to firmly establish themselves with an academy, etc. Their name didn’t help either, as they seemingly wanted to play off of the “Galaxy” moniker, showing just how out of touch they were with the landscape. Speaking of out of touch, an “OC Blue” doesn’t ring very local, to me.


Author: Omar Ian Ávalos

Professional musician and music educator by trade, soccer writer by chance. Music composer, musicologist, pianist, flamenco guitarist and writer out of Santa Ana, CA. YouTube.com/Flamencali. Past contributions at Soccer Newsday, SB Nation, TheCup.US, The Guardian US and Midfield Press. Latest project: opendivision.wordpress.com. Social: @OpenDivisionUSA, /r/OpenDivision. Blogs and projects include The Saint City Post, The Angeltown Post, The Anemometer and more.

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