American Soccer Spotlight — Interviews with People Impacting Our Game
James Keston on USL’s Orange County SC’s Motto Ruthless and Relentless – Interview Part II
In March, SoccerToday’s series for 2019 on influencers in the beautiful game spotlight focus is on James Keston. Keston is a man who never played professional soccer but bought a USL team and is one of the strongest influencers of Ameican soccer. He is a man who thinks out of the box and is determined to improve soccer in our country.
Orange County Soccer Club‘s head coach is Braeden Cloutier, and Oliver Wyss is the General Manager and EVP, together, they are a strong combination of experienced leadership. All the club’s leadership, owner, players, and the front office agree, their motto is clear.
OCSC’s motto is Ruthless and Relentless.
This motto clearly reflects the drive and ambition of everyone at Orange County SC and yet the focus is not only on winning and reaching the USL Cup Championship, but it is also on identifying, developing and signing great young talent. Orange County SC offers a clear pathway for youth players who want to become professional soccer players if they have the talent and drive.
SoccerToday’s New Interview with James Keston
Diane Scavuzzo: What is in the works, behind the scenes, for this upcoming 2019 season?
James Keston: Our goal in the off-season was to take a look from top to bottom at what we were doing. Obviously, we finished off the season very successfully — with a sold-out stadium and a great run almost to the end of the USL Cup. This year, we just want to make everything a little bit bigger and a little bit better.
On the player side, we’re really coming back with continuity, with 14 players from last year’s club, which is something we’ve never done before.
In addition, we’ve brought in a number of very young, talented players who we are very excited about.
At the end of the day, one of the two big tenants of our business is the pathway to professional and finding young players — both in Orange County and abroad — and bringing them through our professional system. Our goal is always to help them reach the highest level of soccer that they’re capable of — whether that is USL, MLS or playing in top leagues abroad.
Orange County SC also has an entirely new merchandise setup that should be spectacular, and we’re extremely excited about the season!
Diane Scavuzzo: Since you took over this club, what are you most proud of?
James Keston: I’m most proud of the culture we’ve built inside both the locker room and in the front office.
We have a motto, which is “Relentless and Ruthless,” and that’s really what we’re trying to fulfill both on and off the field.
It is about putting the best product on the field.
We believe there’s no team in U.S. Soccer that we can’t compete with and beat. And we also are bringing in foreign teams for friendlies this summer; Tijuana Xolos as well as a couple of European clubs.
Our mission is to bring the best soccer in the world to Orange County.
Diane Scavuzzo: Can you share a bit more on your pathway for exceptionally talented youth soccer players?
James Keston: Absolutely. Our goal from the first day I bought the club has been to partner with all of the clubs around Orange County and San Diego and work with them to find the most talented players, elite players.
Our pathway provides an opportunity for really talented youth players to not only play professionally for us, but to play professionally at a higher level, whether that be in Europe, in Mexico, or in MLS.
Each year, we’ve taken another step forward. We have several additional youth players from the Orange County area and abroad who we’ve signed, or are about to sign, to either an Academy contract or to a full professional contract.
It is a very exciting time for talented young players.
Diane Scavuzzo: What does the Orange County SC motto mean to you? Ruthless and Relentless …
James Keston: Relentless is, “You’re signing up for a professional soccer career if you come and you sign a contract with us.” That’s a responsibility, but it’s also an extremely exciting opportunity for a kid that really wants to take that next step in their life and take a shot at being a pro.
And, “Ruthless” is really used to describe strikers in front of the goal, but we use it as a larger mechanism to say, “You need to take advantage of the opportunities that you have.”
For many talented soccer players, the key window is between the ages of 16 and 18, when they really need to be working on their craft every day if they want to have a chance to be a pro. That’s really what we’re trying to provide them, starting from youth club to the DA level, to our U23 team, all the way through to our USL team and our partners in Mexico and Europe.
We’re really providing a pathway to develop players to the highest talent level he can possibly achieve and play in the highest league he can.
Article Updated: 3.17.19