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A much improved S2 draw University of Portland 1-1

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Sounders FC 2 completely dominated the current WCC champions, but the University of Portland capitalized on S2’s defensive mistakes.

Javorn Stevens (30), Irvin Parra (38), Brian Nana-Sinkam (55), others warm-up before match against the University of Portland

Last week’s dismantling of Sounders FC 2 by Seattle University can be explained away by a lot of things, mostly legitimately, and certainly did not necessitate doomsday fretting. What it did do was make a competent, if not dominant, performance against the University of Portland requisite. Fortunately S2 were able to accomplish that requirement, and despite not having his full complement of players, Coach Ezra Hendrickson was able to put out a starting line-up that looked like it could at least compete in the USL.

S2 came out in the organization’s standard 4-2-3-1: Brian Meredith; Euosiyas Atsemgiorgies, Unknown Trialist, Brian Nana-Sinkam, Ethan Lotenero; Lorenzo Ramos, Unknown Trialist; Bakie Goodman, Alcides Thomas, Irvin Parra; Seyi Adekoya. It is unlikely that S2 will put out that lineup in league play, but some of the players will certainly see time, including the star of the night, Alcides Thomas.

Alcides Thomas!! It’s a pun, kinda, unfortunately.

S2 came out of the gate calm but dynamic in possession. A lot of that was due to Alcides Thomas. As soon as S2 got the ball they looked for Thomas and he rewarded the team by being dangerous in a myriad of ways. Thomas dribbled through, around, over and by people with regularity. Most impressively, all of his successful dribbles ended with completed, threatening passes. He also showed great vision and put Seyi Adekoya in on goal multiple times, and with better finishing probably could have assisted Adekoya on a couple of goals. Thomas’ first touch was also spectacular all night; he used it to keep control in tight spaces and to spin himself out of traffic. It was truly a clockmaker type of performance.

Right side runs rampant.

In the first half the combination of Irvin Parra and Ethan Lotenero was an absolute terror down the right side. Both are sneaky-fast and their quick one-twos caused the Pilots trouble all night. Through their great play Lotenero was able to put in a number of dangerous crosses and Parra was a constant threat, cutting inside and driving into the box. Things got particularly neat when Thomas drifted out a bit to join them. The three of them combined for some of the quickest, most fluent soccer S2 has played.

Individually Parra also put together some excellent hold-up play out wide, which was needed as Seyi Adekoya struggled to provide that up top in this match. Though his opportunities weren’t as plentiful as Adekoya’s, his direct and aggressive play with the ball made him the most goal-dangerous Sounder on the night.

It should also be noted that Lotenero is far from a finished RB and really struggled when he was forced into one-on-one defensive situations.

Defense :(

Lotenero was not the only one who struggled to play defense on the backline. There were 7 S2 players who saw time on the backline and not one of them looked good on the few occasions Portland got a full-blooded attack going. There were missed clearances, poor tackles and wild interception attempts. The CBs in particular seemed invisible, with the University of Portland able to get off open shots from the top of the box far too easily. Only heroics from Brian Meredith kept Portland from putting in a couple more goals.

Centerback was where S2 were weakest last season and there is no indication that this year will be any different. It is rather baffling how much trouble S2 seem to have filling the position.

Something Alexi Lalas would say.

This was a match that could easily have seen 6 or 7 goals from open play but somehow it ended with 2 goals, both from set pieces. Portland’s came from a direct shot from a free kick about 20 yards out. The shot was decent but in the end went right through the hands of a diving Meredith. S2’s goal came from a beautiful piece of service from Parra that glanced off of a S2 head (I honestly have no idea who, I couldn’t see) into the net. It was a perfect ball, the kind that sometimes sneaks inside the far post without a touch.

In the end 1-1 was probably a fair score for the match. Actually, 3-3 would be more fair. An impressive, truly as dominant as they come performance in possession was offset by some really poor moments on defense. In possession S2 look ready to compete but likely to struggle to contain USL teams when they don’t have the ball. The defensive side of the game may get better as S2 gets more time together, but frankly, none of the CBs looked like they were ready to play at the USL level.

S2 have one more game to figure things out before the league campaign begins. They take on Oregon State at 1 PM this coming Saturday, March 18, at Starfire.