The USL season is finally upon us, and that means that the Thundercaps are back in action. They were undefeated in preseason, but face a daunting task in the opener; an away trip to last seasons Western Conference champions, the Orange County Blues.
We got in touch with Alicia Ratterree to get her thoughts on the Blues expectations for this season.
1) Last year you won the west, but couldn't take home the USL Championship. What would be considered a successful season for OC Blues this year?
The coach and players appear set on winning a championship again this season, but short of that, I think success this year will be not just reaching the playoffs but finally winning a playoff game. The Blues are among the oldest of the "newer" USL clubs, the team that kicked off Western expansion in the league, and since joining in 2011 they've yet to actually win a postseason game. Watching them fall at the first hurdle last season, to local rivals LA Galaxy II, no less, left a sour taste in my mouth, truth be told. Realistically, OC had a fantastic season last year, and it will be hard to top. But if they can finally break their duck in the playoffs, they could really show they have the chops to go all the way and win a title.
2) Are there any new OC Blues players that the Thundercaps should worry about?
I would say the main scoring threat appears to be Trevin Caesar, a forward that Vancouver fans may remember from the Austin Aztex last year. Now playing for the Blues, Caesar will likely be the primary target for the team, something he didn't have in Austin. Will he be able to take the pressure as the main scorer? Time will tell, but he had a good preseason and should be able to hit the ground running for his new team.
3) What's your prediction for the game?
Ah, the first game is pretty much always the hardest. I'll be honest, the club did not share many details from preseason so it's hard to gauge who will be playing Saturday evening and how they looked in preseason. Given that it's a home game and perhaps the element of surprise could catch the Thundercaps off guard a bit, I'll predict a narrow 1-0 win for the Blues.