Boy howdy was this an unappealing match. Neither team looked good at Starfire on Friday night, with each side putting together maybe, maybe ... 20 minutes of respectable soccer. In the end, Seattle Sounders FC 2 came out on top 2-0, but it wasn’t a convincing win.
S2’s best minutes of the game were the first 15 or so and the match looked on its way to being a route. Shandon Hopeau and Irvin Parra looked particularly dangerous in the opening moments, and they were both involved in the play that resulted in S2’s first goal.
While driving towards the middle Hopeau executed an excellently weighted little cut-back pass that found David Olsen streaking into the box. His shot was saved by Kendall McIntosh but the rebound spilled into the path of Parra. Cleverly, Parra cut just in front of the Portland Timbers 2 defender, Harold Hansen, who was closing in on the ball. Hansen was unable to pull back and clattered into Parra from behind. The referee correctly pointed to the spot. Parra scored the penalty in the 6’ minute to give S2 the early lead.
S2 continued to apply considerable pressure until about the 20’ when the game really devolved. Both teams struggled to hold on to the ball for the rest of the first half.
The second half started the way the first ended, with turnover after turnover, but unlike T2, S2 were able to capitalize on one of these turnovers early in the second. In the 52’ Parra applied pressure to Rennico Clark after the defender made a loose touch in the back. It looked like Parra tried to drag the ball through the challenge but for some reason Clark pulled out of the challenge. With no defender in the way, the ball looped up and over McIntosh into the back of the net. It was one of the stranger goals you will see, but Parra has to be given credit for the pressure he applied.
With the two goal lead S2 retreated into a defensive shell like they did against Colorado Springs a couple of weeks ago. And again, they were very lucky not to pay for it. It is a strategy that has to stop. From the 70’ to the end of the game S2 had only 12 touches in their offensive third. It is just not sustainable and against any team beside T2, who have managed just 5 goals on the year, S2 probably end up losing this one.
T2 were extremely unlucky not to pull one back in the 87’ when Lucas Cini was called offside erroneously after he put in a Villyan Bijev shot that hit the crossbar. It wasn’t particularly close, he was 2 yards onside, and the last few minutes would have been a lot more nervous for S2 had the goal not been disallowed.
S2 improves to 5-4-0 on the season and will now hit the road for two matches against San Antonio FC and Reno 1868 FC.
Bryan Meredith; Brian Nana-Sinkam, Rodrigue Ele, Sam Rogers, Riley Grant; Francisco Narbon, Ray Saari; David Olsen (Jamie Dimitroff 75'), Shandon Hopeau, Irvin Parra (Azriel Gonzalez 63'); Felix Chenkam (Javorn Stevens 81')
Shandon Hopeau (AM)
This match was by far Hopeau’s best with S2; it really feels like he has come to terms with the level of play in the USL in the last two weeks. He was much more active in this one and it was great to see him get his head up with the ball at his feet. It was his no look cut back that led to the PK. That pass really showed that he is starting to become aware of his and his teammates location on the pitch. It was also unpredictable which is something a lot of the younger players fail to be when they step up a level. In the 7’ and 10’ Hopeau again had his head up and made nice little passes to Felix Chenkam and Olsen. The pass to Chenkam resulted in another very dangerous scoring opportunity. In the 21’ Hopeau should have had an assist after he worked himself free in the corner and delivered a pinpoint cross to Parra who headed it just over. Hopeau wasn’t able to get involved in the second half, but no one from S2 really was, so it is hard to lay the blame at the feet of one of the younger players on the field.
Irvin Parra (AM)
S2 are best when they can get holdup play from Parra in wide spaces and he provided that in spades early in this match. He is deceptively quick in short bursts and does a great job getting his body in between the ball and defender. That is exactly what he did to draw the early penalty and he did it well a number of times in midfield. It was also nice to see Parra driving at defenders, something he has gone away from recently but was very effective at last year and in preseason.
Parra also made some excellent late runs into the box and with a bit better finishing might have had a goal or two more on the night. He was an important defender on corners and free kicks in the first half, with several good headed clearances and a very important block on a Bijev volley that looked goal bound. Parra was probably lucky on his second goal but he deserved it after a first half in which he was an absolute wrecking ball. When Parra plays aggressively there aren’t many defenders in the USL that can deal with his power. Hopefully he continues to bring that style of play now that he has some goals and a bit of confidence under his belt.
Best performance by an Academy player
Azriel Gonzalez had one super encouraging moment in this one. In the 66’ he had the ball on the left side and was faced with two T2 defenders coming at him. He didn’t shy from the moment and instead of passing the ball backwards he drove right at the T2 players. With some clever footwork he was able to split them and they had to bring him down to prevent him from being free in the box. It was aggressive, confident play and something the Sounders organization needs more of at all levels right now. That a 15-year-old can take on and beat two USL defenders is impressive.
First Team call up power rankings
- Ray Saari (-)
- David Olsen (-)
- Sam Rogers (-)
- Francisco Narbón (-)
- Felix Chenkam (-)
- Chenkam left the game with what looked like a hamstring injury. He was limping heavily after the match and had it wrapped in ice.
Cascadia 2 Cup