Nikola Ilich will return for a second season with the Orange County Blues FC after a standout rookie campaign in 2015. This marks the second official signing announced by the club moving into 2016, after midfielder Chino Santana was announced last week.
“I’m excited to be back with the Blues and to have another great season,” said Ilich. “I can’t wait to see what this season has in store for us and for the fans.”
No player appeared in more matches for the OC Blues than Ilich this past season. The San Diego Surf alum started 13 matches and came off the bench for another 14. The highlight of his season came on August 8, when Ilich recorded the first goal of his professional career with a game-winner against the Austin Aztex. The beautiful volley from the edge of the box has been regarded as the team’s best goal of season.
“We are delighted to welcome Nikki (Ilich) back to the OC Blues,” said head coach Oliver Wyss. “He was an important part of our success and played more games than any other player last season after coming through the open tryouts. We are looking forward to working with him again and having another successful season together.”
After leaving Surf, Illich played his college soccer in Orange County at Vanguard University, but went unnoticed professionally until appearing at an open tryout for the Blues. After excelling at the open combine, Ilich was one of 60 players invited to the Blues final combine in early 2015. After another standout performance, the 22-year old was signed to the club and came off the bench in the Blues’ opening match against Arizona United. This led to over 1300 minutes of playing time for the Blues rookie last season.
The Blues are holding open tryouts on December 19-20 at the Great Park in Irvine. Registration is open here http://ocbluesfc.com/www/Tryouts.html.
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