The Los Angeles Area USASA Top 10

UPDATE: FC Golden State has been removed from the top 10 and FC Long Beach has been included at number 10. More details on this club below.

Previously

This is the first attempt to rank USASA teams in the LA area, that I know of. This ranking measures, especially, team performance across the affiliated USASA leagues (NPSL, PDL, UPSL, SoCal Premier, etc). More weight is given to clubs playing beyond their league conferences, for example. Simply put, with more success outside of league play, comes more merit. Sounds reasonable, right? I don’t think it’s that hard to comprehend.


Criteria

  1. First off, my metric encompasses clubs throughout the Greater Los Angeles area, made up of its counties: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernadino, Ventura.
  2. Results against clubs in the area, regardless of league, are especially favored.
  3. Clubs competing in cups beyond their league, and winning in those cups, are also weighted favorably.

Clarification

I’m going to lay this down once, to eliminate misperceptions in the future. I don’t subscribe to the notion that the NPSL is a better league, in general, nor by default. The NPSL has improved greatly in presentation and perception off the field, but this doesn’t necessarily translate to on-field success. I’ll give you two or three examples of how NPSL clubs haven’t delivered on the field.

The NPSL’s Sacramento Gold fell to La Máquina of the UPSL in last year’s Open Cup. Prior to that match, the Gold went on TV in Sacramento saying that they were going to come down here to win. Fast forward to Open Cup 2017 qualifying and the NPSL’s Orange County FC fell to “La Machina” [sic], on September 17, 2016.

OCFC got a “rematch” in February, and lost that too.

So what? Why do I make a big deal about this? To not assume that teams in a startup league like the UPSL, or any league, are inferior by default. This is too common a characteristic in American soccer and among its fans, even front offices.

The Top 10, Defined

1. Moreno Valley FC is the defending USASA Region IV Champion. This means they’re the best California team outside of the professional leagues (USSF divisions 1-3, do not confuse this to be anything other), and they’ve demonstrated it in the State Cup. Last year they defeated LA Wolves, the club that defeated the USL’s OC Blues, later-rebranded-as Orange County SC in last year’s Open Cup. Performance is telling, and especially against other regional standouts. “Mo Val” recently defended their state title successfully versus UPSL standout Santa Ana Winds FC in Norco, and they have another title defense coming up against Eric Wynalda’s L.A. Wolves.

2. L.A. Wolves have done some significant revamping since last year’s Open Cup exit versus Santa Ana’s La Máquina. They’ve brought on Eric Wynalda as head coach, perform consistently well in the UPSL, and are alive in two other competitions, the State Cup and the Open Cup. They have a chance to eliminate the sitting State Champion in Moreno Valley, and the have a chance to advance in the Open Cup versus San Diego Zest of the PDL.

3. La Máquina currently sits in third in the UPSL, and also has had a lot on their plate recently. They’re still alive in the Open Cup, and will travel to face Fresno Fuego at Chukchansi Park. They’re no strangers to travelling to face PDL teams. Last year, La Máquina eliminated Portland Timbers PDL, in Oregon. La Máquina was recently eliminated from the State Cup vs San Nicolás SC of Santa Barbara, by a score of 1-0.

4. Santa Ana Winds FC sit in 2nd in the UPSL and are having a turnaround season, having rebuilt their club with players from the reputable Santa Ana College Dons program. Winds FC won a 2017 Open Cup qualifying match over La Habra City, before being eliminated in the 2nd qualifying round by La Máquina. Santa Ana managed to grind out wins in the State Cup, including a 1-0 win over Real Sociedad Royals of the SoCal Premier League, and a momentous 3-2 comeback over UPSL leader Strikers South Coast. Their creative individual skills were not enough to best regional powerhouse Moreno Valley FC in the State Cup quarterfinals.

5. Real Sociedad Royals are 2nd in the SoCal Premier League, and like in-league club Outbreak SC, are accustomed to competing in extra-league tournaments. They’ve won Open Cup qualifiers in the past, and topped the best team in the UPSL in Strikers South Coast, effectively eliminating them from the State Cup. The only thing keeping them from being ranked higher than Winds FC is their loss to the Santa Ana side in the group stage of the State Cup. The Royals were eliminated from 2017 Open Cup qualifying by L.A. Wolves, 4-1.

6. Outbreak SC sits in 3rd in the SoCal Premier League, and has an upcoming Open Cup match against FC Golden State Force of the PDL on May 10. Outbreak qualified for the Open Cup by defeating in-league Buena Park FC and San Fernando Valley Scorpions of the UPSL.

7. Strikers FC South Coast, while at the top of the UPSL with goal differential, the Strikers fell twice in the group stage of the State Cup. In one loss the club blew a 2-0 lead to Winds FC, who exposed them by taking control of possession, and turning the game in their favor 3-2. Strikers fell to Real Sociedad by the same score, finishing last in the State Cup group stage, but did edge out Santa Barbara club San Nicolás in the State Cup, in which the latter is a semifinalist.

8. Riverside Coras are dominating the NPSL Southwest Conference, which includes conference leaders OCFC and FC Arizona. Surprisingly, to this writer, the NPSL Southwest is the only competition Coras are participating in. Coras had a UPSL squad, and nave focused on the NPSL, which is the right thing to do in my book, but are absent of the Open Cup and the State Cup (more on this later).

9. Orange County FC is having an impressive debut season in the NPSL, sitting 2nd behind Coras. The Irvine club has a chance to bump Riverside out of 1st, in their upcoming match, which will reveal who’s the best in the NPSL SW. OCFC is undefeated and features ex-Máquina player José “Chila” Montes and ex-Sueño MLS Winner Armando “Mambo” Flores of Santa Ana, CA, among others. OCFC lost an Open Cup qualifier to La Máquina, of Santa Ana, in September 2016, and a rematch in February 2017.

10. FC Long Beach is a semifinalist in the State Cup and has won 3 matches in that tournament, in which they defeated Los Angeles United Soccer Club, of the L.A. Premier League, along with Chula Vista and Newhall Premier, but were pummeled by L.A. Wolves, which is revealing. They have an upcoming match with San Nicolás SC. FC Long Beach appears to be a non-league club, described as the men’s club of the Long Beach Youth Soccer Association. Due to this fact there’s no telling how this club would fare in leagues like the UPSL, NPSL, or the SoCal Premier’s first division. Their only measure against a UPSL club is an 8-0 loss to L.A. Wolves.

Closing thoughts

As a fan, I argue that more interleague play, outside of Open Cup one-offs and the like, are a necessary part of “growing the game,” which every league and club claims to want to do. It’s a win-win when leagues and clubs cooperate. Maybe there should be an invitational for LA area clubs. Anyway, whether observers agree with my assessment or not, USASA clubs in the LA area need prodding to produce even better matchups. The UPSL and the NPSL are consolidating and forming top clubs in the LA area. The NPSL Southwest Conference has improved greatly with its recent expansion teams. The So Cal Premier’s best will always be there pecking at the top.

Remember, before you blow a gasket, rankings are never stagnant. As boxing referee Mills Lane used to say, “Let’s get it on.”

What do you say? What’s your top ten? Do you hate me yet?

 

 

 

 

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A Burgeoning National Soccer League, with Santa Ana Origins

The United Premier Soccer League launched in 2011, when Santa Ana Winds FC leaders reformed their club in this new league, outside of the National Premier Soccer League, where they had a season-long stint. Winds FC started the league with other Santa Ana clubs including La Máquina and Ozzy’s Laguna, in addition to Orange County area clubs like OC Crew and Irvine Outcasts, etc. By 2016 two more Santa Ana clubs, Cal Arsenal and CF Cachorros, joined the UPSL.

The league is turning seven and now has an upward and national trajectory that’s mostly taken off in the last year. Much of this boom, arguably, came from one of their more successful clubs, La Máquina, that made a splash in the 2016 national US Open Cup. 

For those that need a primer or a reminder, La Máquina shattered all expectations of an “Open Division” or “amateur” club in that tournament. The club defeated other clubs from longer-established and supposedly better quality leagues including the Premier Development League and the National Premier Soccer League. La Máquina made it to the fourth elimination round where they faced the LA Galaxy and lost on a controversial deadball play, a play in which the referee officiating the match later admitted he was wrong in allowing. (See Máquina – Galaxy: The Aftermath).

Incidentally, fellow club LA Wolves of the UPSL deafeated another club from another supposedly superior league, the OC Blues, of the United Soccer League in the same 2016 Open Cup.

This performance on the national stage, one representative of the league put on by La Máquina and LA Wolves demonstrated what is possible outside of the existing system/s found in the PDL/NPSL/USL, etc.

Come 2017 and the UPSL has seen interest from clubs around the country interested in joining their model:

It’s gotten to the point that the UPSL has identified regional directors to oversee growth and nationwide expansion. The league is positioned to be a national league by 2018:

The UPSL makes up part of the frontier of American soccer, a league existing outside of the wall that is the closed system and the status quo involving the youth development to collegiate player drafting method. This league, like other regional leagues, proves that there is undeniable talent in the “Open Division,” outside of said closed structures.

It’s a league like the UPSL that leads reputable American soccer figures like Eric Wynalda to affirm that US Soccer isn’t functioning at its maximum potential by overlooking talent in leagues like the UPSL, instead opting for the current collegiate/PDL, etc player drafting model.

Wynalda reached this affirmation, or reaffirmation, in Santa Ana, on the night of April 1, after the club he now coaches, LA Wolves, lost to La Máquina at Santa Ana Stadium. (LA Wolves are still trying to find that elusive win over La Máquina, btw):

Santa Ana Soccer: Forgotten History, Forsaken Potential

Visit the LA Times online archives and you’ll find some nuggets of history concerning pro soccer at Santa Ana Stadium. You’ll see a story of international matches and local pro league matches that took place at this stadium, long before the creation of Major League Soccer, in 1996.

You’ll see a period when soccer flourished at the stadium, followed by a period of stagnation in the face of other developments in pro soccer, and pro sports, in the LA area. Before there was a Home Depot Center or a StubHub Center, there was Santa Ana Stadium as an option for international soccer matches. This stadium as a soccer venue was hindered even further with the removal of its natural grass and the installation of an artificial American football gridiron.

You’ll see a city’s replacing of the sport of international soccer, with all of the economic potential that it had back then, and has now, with a favoring of American football for the city’s private Catholic high school, Mater Dei, and the city’s public school district teams. Is it any wonder that Mater Dei games are what usually fill the stadium nowadays, attended by friends and families of kids that generally aren’t from, nor live in Santa Ana?

International soccer at Santa Ana Stadium, since its advent

International soccer began being programmed at Santa Ana Stadium soon after it was built in 1963. The stadium was the site of a match between a local team named the Orange County Soccer Club, and none other than historic German powerhouse, FC Bayern Munich in 1966.

Side note: Information on pro soccer at Santa Ana Stadium for nearly a 20 year period is unavailable here, as the research for this article is limited to the Los Angeles Times’ online archive, which only goes as far back as 1985.  

Whoever the promoters were putting on international soccer at Santa Ana Stadium knew what teams would draw well there given the city’s demographics, those teams being Mexican clubs Chivas de Guadalajara and Club América. It was common practice to see a club face a national team, like in the cases of Guadalajara’s 1-0 win over Honduras, on March 15, 1988, and a 5-4 goal fest Chivas took over the United States, a month later on April 24, 1988. Club América defeated Bayern Munich 2-1 on January 14, 1989 and East Germany by a score of 3-1 on August 2, 1990 at this stadium. América faced the United States at Santa Ana Stadium on March 25, 1989 prior to their match with East Germany, in a match for the “Santa Ana Soccer Cup,” a game in which the “team from Mexico City” (Club América) won 2-0.

There was at least one game with tinges of CONCACAF regional tournament play, with Central American clubs Herediano of Costa Rica facing storied club Olympia of Honduras, a game which Herediano won 1-0 on August 28, 1988.

American pro soccer leagues and club ventures at Santa Ana Stadium

Santa Ana Stadium was the home of the now-defunct clubs California Sunshine (American Soccer League, defunct), Orange County Zodiac, later rebranded Orange County Waves, (A-League, now known as the United Soccer League). Most importantly, what did these teams have in common? None of them used the Santa Ana name, thus failing, fantastically, to form a club that would resonate with the Santa Ana market.

Another factor that contributed in part to burying pro soccer in Orange County (and more importantly, Santa Ana), until the LA Blues of the USL rebranded themselves “OC Blues” in 2014, is the formation of Major League Soccer and that league’s goal of subjugating USL, and placing MLS development teams there, so as to not have a rival to its soccer “business,” which is really an ongoing monopolization of the “First Division,” or, “Major League” status, which is really no much more than a tag set by monetary criteria and not sporting merit, through promotion and relegation among divisions, which is how Division 1 status is attained in leagues around the world. But not in the USA, ’cause what works for pro basketball, baseball, football in this country, works for soccer is their thinking. Getting back to the original point of this paragraph, Orange County went without pro soccer for 14 years, the Blues now play in Irvine, the city next door, but Santa Ana Stadium hasn’t had a pro team since the “OC Zodiac,” which made a last-ditch effort to save themselves by moving to Santa Ana Stadium, (they moved out of Irvine) but it was too late, and they insisted on branding themselves generically as the “Orange County Waves.”

So we see this timeline of pro soccer at Santa Ana Stadium beginning in the 1960s, with some information missing on the 1970s missing from the LA Times online archives, although it can be deduced that soccer was played there throughout this decade, given that the sport has always been popular in the city and given that a Santa Ana soccer player, José López, worked his way up through UCLA to eventually play on the inaugural 1974 LA Aztecs of the first North American Soccer League. It’s safe to say that Santa Ana Stadium remained a destination for soccer during that decade and it was such through the 80s.

In the 80s we see a number of international soccer matches, particularly ones appealing to the city’s Latino (mostly Mexican, and or Mexican-American) demographic, one that the city has been strongly associated with since then and prior. In the 90s we see the inclusion of American soccer leagues that came and went, one flopping out entirely and one rebranding itself as the United Soccer League.

At the start of the 21st century we see the growth of MLS and its stymying of organic growth in soccer cities like Santa Ana, because of that league’s and the US Soccer Federation’s refusal to implement promotion and relegation. For the LA Galaxy to continue being what it is, an unchallenged franchise clinging to a division 1 tag, no other team and city in the LA region can grow a team and reach division 1 status through sporting merit. For the LA Galaxy to continue as is, soccer cities in the LA region must remain subjugated, at best allowed to exist as a mostly irrelevant club trotting along in a MLS development league, which is the case of the OC Blues.

Afterthoughts

One this is abundantly clear. Santa Ana has always been a soccer destination. It’s soccer potential is still great and better than ever before, due to population growth, along with the popularity the sport enjoys. “Every place you go in the community is about soccer,” said Santa Ana Unified School District Superintendent Rick Miller. The Galaxy knows this and that’s why they’ve always tried to treat Santa Ana like nothing more than a market. It is much, much more than a market. MLS knows this and that’s why they squatted on santaanafc.com, which is absolute pettiness on the part of the shot-callers at that league, which are backed NFL, MLB and NBA money.

Just recently the LA Galaxy struggled to move on in the US Open Cup versus a Santa Ana amateur team known as “La Máquina.” What would’ve that result been if a Santa Ana club had the competitive advantages of a pro club? Things like fulltime training, physical trainers, doctors, nutritionists, and at least the opportunity and incentive to receive the necessary cash injections to compete regionally? That full potential is capped through US Soccer’s locking out of all clubs not already bought into (literally) “division 1” and the exposure that’s associated with that tag. And that’s done to curb competition, don’t be naïve.

 

 

 

La Máquina, on to the next round

Santa Ana-based La Máquina FC of the United Premier Soccer League defeated Sacramento Gold of the National Premier Soccer League in an elimination game in the Second Round of the US Open Cup on Wednesday night May 18 at Westminster High School.

La Máquina dominated their rival since the start of the match but could not capitalize on their chances until the 70th minute when Edwin Borboa broke through. Midfielder José Castro Pérez scored a goal on a volley at the 79th minute to kill the game.

The next opponent for La Máquina will be LA Wolves FC, a team that is also a member of the UPSL. It will be the first time in the history of the Open Cup that teams in this league meet in an elimination game in a later round.

The match between La Máquina and LA Wolves will be played at Westminster High School in Westminster, CA at 7 pm on Wednesday, June 1. The winner will face the LA Galaxy in the Fourth Round.

La Máquina, a la siguiente ronda

La Máquina Fútbol Club de la United Premier Soccer League derrotó la noche del miércoles 18 de mayo al Club Oro de Sacramento (Sacramento Gold FC) de la National Premier Soccer Leauge en un partido de eliminación dentro de la Copa Abierta de EEUU (U.S. Open Cup).

El equipo de La Máquina, basado en Santa Ana, CA, dominó al rival desde el inicio del partido pero no pudo concretar sus oportunidades de gol hasta el minuto 70, cuando Edwin Borboa logró anotar. El medio campista José Castro Pérez anotó un golazo de volea al minuto 79 para sentenciar el partido.

El próximo rival para La Máquina será el Club Lobos de Los Ángeles (LA Wolves FC), equipo que también es miembro de la UPSL. Será la primera vez en la historia de la Copa Abierta que equipos de esta liga se enfrenten en un partido de eliminación, en una ronda avanzada.

El partido entre La Máquina y Club Lobos de Los Ángeles se jugará en Westminster High School en Westminster, CA el primero de junio a las 7 pm. El ganador enfrentará nada más y nada menos que al Galaxy de Los Ángeles.

A Brief History of Orange County Soccer 

This piece will give a simple timeline of Orange County soccer at the professional and semi-professional level, and not at the youth level, which historically has always been very healthy and robust. Unfortunately, reputable independent youth academies or development squads like the Fullerton Rangers, Pateadores, PSA Elite and others have never formed their own professional soccer clubs. Maybe its time that communities funnel their youth into their very own professional clubs and not rely on their players to be “drafted.”

 

Orange County Soccer Club, 1960s (details scarce), Two-Time National Challenge Cup (Now US Open Cup) Finalist in 1966 and 1967. Played in a league called the Continental League. Played Bayern Munich of the German Bundesliga at Santa Ana Stadium in 1966.

 

California Sunshine, 1977-81 (ASL), founded in Fountain Valley, CA, played at Chapman University in the City of Orange, and at Santa Ana Stadium.

 

California Surf1978-81 (NASL), played at Anaheim Stadium. The team was at one time owned by the Segerstrom Family, who are longtime Santa Ana and Costa Mesa landowners who developed South Coast Plaza. The Segerstroms recently sold 5 acres in Santa Ana to the San Diego Chargers, in case of their move to the LA market.

 

Orange County Zodiac, 1997-99 USISL A-League (Now USL). Played at UC Irvine then decided they wanted to play in Santa Ana, at Santa Ana Stadium. Placed at least one add in the Santa Ana Chamber of Commerce’s publication, because that’s what most Santa Ana residents read back then (sarcasm).

 

Orange County Blue Star, 2001-12, USL Premier Development League, played at Concordia University in Irvine. Some World Cup winner and national team coach named Jürgen Klinsmann played for this club under the alias “Jay Göppingen.”

 

Santa Ana Winds FC, founded in 2006 in the So Cal Premier  League, then joined the National Premier Soccer League for one year in 2011, then became a founding member of the United Premier Soccer League. The team has struggled to get a home field for the duration of an entire season and has been playing its games at OC Great Park in Irvine, and at the Sports Park in Lake Forest, CA. In 2016 the club began scheduling games at Santa Ana College, and played two US Open Cup qualifying matches, a win vs La Habra City FC and a loss to La Máquina. The club plans to compete in the newly minted UPSL Pro League at Santa Ana Stadium in 2017.


OC Blues, USL, started as the LA Blues in the USL Pro league in 2010, played at Titan Stadium at Cal State Fullerton before moving to Anteater Stadium at UC Irvine. The word is they want to build a 5000 seat stadium at OC Great Park in Irvine.


Fullerton Rangers, 2012, named after the reputable soccer academy, played a US Open Cup game before folding after a short existence.

 

The UPSL
The United Premier Soccer League was founded in 2011 in Santa Ana, with a Los Angeles headquarter in Torrance. The UPSL’s Orange County teams typically use fields at Irvine’s OC Great Park, Las Lomas Community Park and the Lake Forest Sports Park. The league’s teams seldom use Santa Ana Stadium or Santa Ana College fields.

 

OC Crew competed in the Coast Soccer League prior to adding a team to the UPSL.

 

OC Stars began as Tustin Legends.

 

PSA Elite a surprise amateur club in the 2015 US Open Cup that advanced the farthest of all the non-professional teams.

 

La Máquina, borrows nickname and identity of Mexico’s Cruz Azul FC, will enter 2016 US Open Cup play in the Open Division round, after qualifying by crushing 2015 US Open Cup surprise team Chula Vista FC by a score of 4-0. La Máquina is also known as “FC Golden State Orange County,” and is described as a program of Irvine Premier Soccer. La Máquina also competes in the Coast Soccer League.

 

FC Expat, out of Huntington Beach with a solid youth academy.

 

Anaheim Legacy, founded in 2015, lists their home field 15 miles away in Downey, which explains their league alignment and schedule with LA County UPSL teams.

 

Irvine Outcasts, founded in 2013, nicknamed “The Flock,” appear to be comprised of UC Irvine players, are mostly active on Facebook and nearly non-existent on other social media.

The Case for Pro Soccer in Santa Ana

Some people are aware that Santa Ana has been part of conversations to bring pro soccer to town, for years. There have been clubs, mainly minor league clubs playing at Santa Ana Stadium over the years, and some pro clubs have scouted and developed players here, that is well known by now.

Recently, there’s been fan involvement with trying to bring Major League Soccer to town, but that’s a broken record. Major League Soccer doesn’t have sufficient interest in Santa Ana for having their second LA area franchise play here. Regardless of their level of, or lack of, interest in Santa Ana, this city is a tremendous opportunity for a pro soccer club that doesn’t have to play in that league, that major soccer league or “MLS.”

But in order for a pro soccer club to find success in Santa Ana, some things have to happen. The first is finding a deep-pocketed owner with a net worth of $20 million USD, that is according to the United States Soccer Federation’s regulations. The second is, assuming there’s a committed owner, is repairing Santa Ana Stadium. Our stadium currently qualifies as a Division 2 stadium with its 9,000 seat capacity. U.S. Soccer categorizes a stadium of 5,000 as Division 2 and one of 15,000 as Division 1. The problem with getting to Division 1 is Major League Soccer, that requires a $100 million dollar entry fee. Their entry fees skyrocketed in the last 10 years and their league is closed, not allowing entry without buying in. They’re structured like the NBA and the NFL. In fact, MLS is comprised of some NBA, MLB and NFL shareholders, thus their league is closed, which differs from soccer leagues all over the world.

The Case of the Orange County Blues

The Orange County Blues of the United Soccer League (Division 3), that play in Irvine, are arguably out of touch with Santa Ana. I don’t see them marketing anywhere here, like what’s expected of a “professional” club. And now the pressure is higher for them to deliver given that their league, the USL, wants Division 2 status, which requires the Blues to have an at least 5,000 seat venue. When you look at the current Division 2 league, the North American Soccer League, you see their clubs bombard their communities with billboard ads, tv ads, and they successfully create community. That is not the case with the OC Blues.

Here’s a team touting itself as the county’s pro team but that has failed to create the proper fan experience and culture, the likes of a Charleston Battery or Carolina RailHawks. Santa Ana is perfect for soccer supporter culture with the downtown attractions being just minutes away on foot from Santa Ana Stadium, but no club has managed to connect the dots. The Blues played a match at Santa Ana Stadium, against Atlético Marte of El Salvador, but that was it. According to a supporter of that club, our stadium may likely turn out to be too costly for their ownership to lease for a season, but that is compounded by their failure at connecting and forming community with Santa Ana. Asking the mayor’s office to do a press release or leaving it up to what little fans that club has to do the footwork and heavy lifting when it comes to marketing, is not the way to capture Santa Ana. So because of OC Blues’ unwillingness to effectively engage with Santa Ana, this market is lost to them.

The Next Steps: Stadiums, Fields

Santa Ana is deserving of a pro club because of the amount of interest there is in the sport here. Just look at the leagues playing on weekends, the kids and young adults, the families that attend their matches, the people watching Liga MX at any given restaurant and I’ve only painted a small painting of the soccer experience is like in Santa Ana. Lola Gaspar started some soccer-viewing traditions of their own involving the World Cup, El Clásico between Real Madrid and Barcelona and more. Imagine gathering at Lola’s or The Good Beer Co, or at whatever point in the downtown prior to or after matches. That’s possible in Santa Ana, because we have it all, with or without Major League Soccer.
So if I were a soccer-loving multi-muillionaire wanting a team in Santa Ana I’d skip joining both Major League Soccer and the United Soccer League. I’d join the North American Soccer League, renovate Santa Ana Stadium, and establish a long-term partnership with the city to do maintenance on the field at the stadium, ideally replacing the artificial turf with with real grass. The stadium could still accommodate Mater Dei and others, like it has in years past. But what’s great about soccer’s potential in Santa Ana is that a team could play elsewhere in the city, so long as the venue can seat 5,000. There’s the possibility of expanding the capacity at Centennial Park, or at Santa Ana College’s track field, with the right partnership.

Identity

We need to look at our history in order to forge an identity. Who are we? A historic city. We adopted the “Saint” moniker that’s been with us since 1889, the year that Santa Ana High School was founded. We’ve been “Dons” since 1915, the year that Santa Ana College was founded. We adopted “Saint” and “Don” because of our Hispanic and californio heritage. The Saint fits with the landscape, the name of this and many other places in modern-day Southern California, what was once known as Alta California. The Don comes from the rancher period, that of the hacendados. We inherited our name from the Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana, the Santiago Ranch within the Santa Ana Valley. The valley got its name, Valle de Santa Ana, in 1769. That’s how deep we go back. This is part of who we are.

So given our history the following name proposals come forth:

Santiago F.C. (Football Club), Santa Ana Saints F.C., Santa Ana Dons F.C., Santa Ana F.C. Santaniegos FC

We do ourselves a great service by honoring our name and identity and by not accepting something offered to us in the form of an “Orange County Blue,” whatever that is. To say blue or blues is to cause confusion or reference to Chelsea F.C. of England, and it is blasphemy to be a wannabe club of a foreign club. Ask supporters what they think about Chivas USA’s associations with Guadalajara, and what they think of “New York City FC’s” involvement with Manchester City. A santaniego/a is a person from Santa Ana, any city named Santa Ana.