S2 had a whopping 41 different players take the pitch this season, so we’ll be breaking these evaluations up into easily identifiable groups.
Those groups are: Players on MLS contracts playing down, direct S2 signings, adult S2 players eligible for Homegrown Player deals, teen S2 players eligible for Homegrown Player deals, and Sounders Academy members with at least five appearances.
We continue our S2 review with the adult S2 players eligible for Homegrown Player deals. These are players who are over the age of 18 on Sounders 2 contracts, but are eligible for a Homegrown deal thanks to their time in the Sounders Academy. For the most part, these are players the club sees potential in, but who face a shorter timeline to break into the first team than their teenage counterparts.
Shandon Hopeau – F/Wing
Stats: 30 matches played, 2 goals, 1 assist, 36 shots (21 on target)
Hopeau looked every bit like a player who was hitting his stride when S2 reached the end of the season. The winger looked confident with the ball at his feet and seemed to have taken intense instruction from head coach John Hutchinson about timing his runs in behind opposing back lines.
With the versatility to play on both wings, the Hawaii native certainly seems like a bona fide scoring threat. The only thing that needs work is his distribution. Hopeau only managed 18 crosses last season, a figure that will need to increase if S2 is going to be more lethal in the final third.
2019 outlook: Hopeau showed enough promise to have his contract option exercised for next year and may be poised for a breakout season. While other young players on Homegrown deals with the first team are in front of him right now like Henry Wingo and Handwalla Bwana, regular playing time may allow Hopeau to further hone his skills into a potential MLS contributor.
Nick Hinds – LW/LB
Stats: 26 matches played, 2 goals, 2 assists
Hinds is a man who has blazing speed on the wing and a solid head on his shoulders. The former Akron Zip showed he could stretch defenses with relative ease (misplayed long balls are a lot more playable when you have seven yards of separation to recover), but ultimately struggled to produce much from the outside.
Hinds managed 22 crosses in 26 matches. Wingo managed 22 in 12, by comparison. Hinds has real talent in his feet, but it remains to be seen how that talent will fit in with S2 going forward.
2019 outlook: Like Hopeau, Hinds had his contract option exercised for 2019. It is not clear, though, with the departure of left back Ibrahim Usman whether Hinds will be bumped to the back line or if he will see most of his time in the attack. Expect him to play a bit of both while the club figures out if he has a future with the MLS Sounders.
David Olsen – F
Stats: 21 games played, 1 goal, 1 assist
At Seattle University, Olsen was an electrifying talent. The Auburn native’s transition to the professional ranks did not go as smoothly as many hoped it would, though, and Olsen suffered a dreary 2018 after an up-and-down 2017.
The former MAC Hermann Trophy semifinalist was sometimes Jekyll, sometimes Hyde for S2. In matches where Olsen was plugged in, he still flashed the natural aptitude that caused him to turn pro early. In matches where he wasn’t, Olsen sometimes disappeared from the field of play entirely, taking his zone of the field with him.
2019 outlook: Five goals after two professional seasons is not what most clubs are hoping for and Olsen, out of contract at the end of the year, didn’t receive a new offer. With 36 teams in the USL Championship and 10 more in USL League One, there’s a spot somewhere in America for David Olsen to play, but it won’t be in Tacoma.
Sam Rogers – CB
Stats: 11 games played, 45 clearances, 22 interceptions, 22/37 aerial duels won
After a phenomenal first season with S2, Rogers was looked to as a lynchpin for a back line that was hoping to greatly reduce the number of goals it conceded in 2018. Due to frequent national team call-ups and infrequent injuries, however, Rogers did not have as great an impact as initially hoped.
When on the field, Rogers looked like a sturdy and steadily developing center back prospect. The mistakes and lapses in judgment (mostly on tracking long balls in the air) from his first season were greatly reduced, but a lack of consistent playing time kept the 19-year-old from fully finding his rhythm.
2019 outlook: Rogers seems to be the next great hope for the organization to prove that its Academy can develop talent all over the field. With the first team starting to consider its future at the center back position, trust that the coaching staff will be watching Rogers’ progress keenly. Thankfully, with the guidance of long-time pro and S2 assistant head coach Wade Webber, Rogers can be certain of further progress in 2019.
Jalen Markey – CB
Stats: 6 games played, 22 clearances, 25/40 duels won
Signed Sept. 6 from Oregon State, former Sounders Academy player Markey’s acquisition always felt like a bit of a stop-gap measure to plug holes in a back line that was struggling to deal with the absence of Rogers and injury to Rodrigue Ele.
Markey’s short-term contract seemed like an opportunity to prove that he deserved a spot with S2 for next season. Average play, however, meant the club declined his contract option.
2019 outlook: It’s tough to say where Markey will land. Don’t be surprised to see Markey somewhere in USL League Two or the NPSL with a local club when the 2019 season begins.