Orange County SC: Growing US soccer in the face of city rivals

The latest episode of the Behind The Badge podcast heads over to sunny California where Orange County Soccer Club has continued to defy odds in the US Soccer League Championship.

Dan Rutstein, President of Business Operations at Orange County SC, spoke to co-hosts George Harborne & Callum Williams on how the club has overcome a court battle against city rivals LA Galaxy and how it is aiming to become a talent factory for some of North America’s promising players.

Before that, Rutstein opened up on his ‘non-linear’ journey to Orange County SC, from a sports journalist, to a UK government diplomat, whilst still remaining an avid AFC Wimbledon fan.

He then revealed the ‘unique business model’ and the ‘boundless opportunities’ presented in the US soccer landscape that continues to grow in size and interest.

But what Rutstein may have not seen coming that would ultimately grow the soccer club even further was the court battle and subsequent win over LA Galaxy to retain the rights for its home stadium backed by an outpour of fan support, culminating in a victory over LA Galaxy II in a momentous and historic victory.

Rutstein also delved into how its fan ownership model is helping supporters grow more attached to the club, the scouting network it has established in being able to grow and sell players to the likes of Rangers FC and Feyenoord, and a recent kit deal with Hummel have all contributed to growing the club commercially.

There was even time towards the end to discuss the 2026 FIFA World Cup, hosted in the US, Canada and Mexico and what the tournament will mean for the sports growth in the US, with Rutstein describing every game as a Super Bowl fixture.