Santa Ana: A Soccer Town

It’s no surprise that Santa Ana is a soccer town. In fact, Santa Ana can boast that at least one player developed in a Santa Ana youth soccer league now plays professionally for Chivas USA of Major League Soccer, who is Jorge Flores, the first ever Sueño MLS Competition winner. He played for Santa Ana’s Juventus DSP before trying his luck with Major League Soccer.

There was talk for awhile of building a stadium for Chivas USA at Willowick Park in Santa Ana. It makes sense to have some professional soccer team here. The idea for a Chivas stadium has seemingly fizzled, along with that club’s plan to invest in youth soccer in the city. Chivas USA mentioned having a facility or using Santa Ana fields for their youth clubs, but that relationship with the city was short lived. They did have two youth teams calling Santa Ana stadium home, the Chivas USA U-16 (Under 16 years of age), and the U-18 boys teams, but this is no longer the case.

Eddie West Field was the home of the Chivas USA U-16 and U-18 teams for a season

Yet other teams see the enormous potential for youth development and have come knocking. Mexico’s Atlante Football Club had a youth team based in Santa Ana…

The newest club to show interest and to move in is the Chivas rival club Atlas, another team originally from Guadalajara. Atlas Santa Ana’s logo retains one of the most important and identifying symbols of the city and its history, the fleur de lis used by the Saints of Santa Ana High School.

In 2001 the Orange County Blue Star of United Soccer Leagues’s Premier Development League was formed and played its games for a year at Santa Ana Stadium. One of the most notable former Blue Star players is Sacha Kljestan who played professionally for Chivas USA and now plays for Anderlecht in the Belgian First Division.

All of this potential and talent is finally being harvested, so much so that a professional side called the Santa Ana Winds of the National Premier Soccer League has emerged. This club plays its games at Eddie West Field but has been running into some snags as of late. The club already had to move its first game of the season against Hollywood United to Centennial Park last week.

It’s clear that these clubs see the potential for player development and a market for a professional team. Maybe City Council will see this potential and work to make an environment for professional soccer of the highest level. Major League Soccer and a 20,000 seat stadium (or expansion of Eddie West) anyone?

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7 thoughts on “Santa Ana: A Soccer Town

  1. […] In comes Santa Ana. Is this not the most soccer-supportive and practicing city in Orange County? It depends on who you ask. It depends on whether or not people leave there confines and drive around town to see the abundant pool of young talent playing on any given day, and on what their idea and view of what Santa Ana is. In fact, there are professional clubs that have recognized this talent and have come to tap into it … […]

    1. This is a tricky rewording and interpretation of my article. Let’s look at why other higher levels of soccer organization have not succeeded. I don’t think that the tone of it overall suggests that higher levels of soccer don’t, or won’t succeed in Santa Ana.

      1. They are not associated or come from the Chivas de Guadalajara organization, a club with one of the largest followings in the world. Chivas USA comes from this organization.

      2. They don’t have the money, sponsorship or following associated with the Chivas brand. Simply put, they are not Chivas.

      3. The fact that a pro club starts a youth academy in Santa Ana is success in itself. Those clubs are not trying to build or bring a pro team in.

      4. The Orange County Blue Star never associated itself truly with Santa Ana, they did not have an academy for Santa Ana youth, all they wanted was a stadium to play in. They were detached from potential Santa Ana fans. They now play in Irvine.

      5. The Santa Ana Winds moved only one game to Centennial Park, the first game of the season. The rest of their home games were played at Eddie West.

  2. […] In comes Santa Ana. Is this not the most soccer-supportive and practicing city in Orange County? It depends on who you ask. It depends on whether or not people leave there confines and drive around town to see the abundant pool of young talent playing on any given day, and on what their idea and view of what Santa Ana is. In fact, there are professional clubs that have recognized this talent and have come to tap into it … […]

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