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USL Insights – Sorto’s Switch

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 05/03/17, 3:11PM EDT


Former U.S. U23 fullback made central debut last outing

Photo courtesy LA Galaxy II

Throughout his career, both with the LA Galaxy and as a U.S. Youth International, Oscar Sorto’s place at right back was consistent. He made 59 regular-season appearances across three seasons with the LA Galaxy II, and helped the club win the Western Conference in 2015 as he held his position on the right flank.

So, after making the move down I-405 this offseason to Orange County SC, it was an interesting twist that when he faced his former teammates for the first time two weeks ago at StubHub Center Track & Field Stadium, it was as a center back alongside Salomon Wbias.

Early returns were mixed, as might be expected. Sorto was a step slow to get to the rebound of Ariel Lassiter’s free kick, allowing the man he was marking, Adrian Vera, to knock home the equalizer in the 1-1 draw between the sides. His long passing also needed more feel – only three of his passes into the Galaxy II’s half found their targets.

But there were positives, too. Sorto won the majority of both his duels and aerial duels, and made four interceptions and three clearances. His shift also allowed the return to the starting lineup for Joe Franco, and the two combined well in the back line and moving the ball up the right side, supporting creative midfielder Carlos Alvarez.

Whether this is a permanent move remains to be seen – we might get another look at it on Saturday as Orange County hosts its home opener against Los Dos – but with the ability and the room for growth the 22-year-old Sorto has, it could be one worth sticking with for OC Head Coach Logan Pause.

Sorto (2) & Franco (3)
Completed Passes vs. LA Galaxy II, 4/22/17


Photo courtesy Bethlehem Steel FC

Acquired by Bethlehem Steel FC this offseason after earning USL All-League First Team honors in Richmond, Hugh Roberts has had a fight for playing time to start the new season. On Saturday, though, he put in his best performance of the season so far to help Steel FC win its second game this year.

Paired with U.S. U20 international Auston Trusty for a second consecutive game, Roberts played a strong, simple game that allowed Bethlehem to retain possession well against a strong FCC midfield. He completed 24 passes to the midfield trio of Adam Najem, James Chambers and Aaron Jones, and only missed four passes overall, logging a pass accuracy rate of 90.2 percent and raising his season-average to 80.9 percent.

Maybe most importantly, though, Roberts made decisive challenges and interceptions to help Bethlehem withstand FCC’s attacking pressure. You can argue his challenge to deter Andrew Wiedeman’s counter-attack chance in the 33rd minute – see right – was as important as his game-winning goal with three minutes to go, keeping Bethlehem from going behind against a strong counter-attacking side.

Competition for playing time will likely continue throughout Steel FC’s lineup, but with the way things progressed for the side in its past outing, Roberts’ presence next to Trusty could be a big plus for Bethlehem moving forward.

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