TACOMA — It was a crisp beautiful night in the South Sound, a perfect backdrop for a season and venue, opening 2-1 win for Seattle Sounders FC 2 over Portland Timbers 2 behind goals from Felix Chenkam and Nick Hinds. The play wasn’t perfect, but the crowd and the result surpassed any reasonable expectation.
The Supporters Section, located just yards behind the south goal got things started right with a tifo welcoming S2 to Tacoma and some much coveted smoke. Not enough can be said about the 6,000 strong crowd and the support Tacoma will give S2 over the next few years.
That said, what everyone came for was soccer, so attention was rightly turned to the pitch. Things didn’t start out great for S2 as T2 saw the majority of the chances in the first 15 minutes. S2 struggled to control the middle of the pitch and the CB kept getting overrun. Most of T2’s danger came from their two forwards, Jeremy Ebobisse and Augustine Williams. Ebobisse had a shot go off the woodwork and Williams had one blocked in the box among many chances for the two.
Fortunately S2 started to gain a semblance of control around the 15’ through excellent play by Shandon Hopeau, David Olsen and Denso Ulysse. An excellent cross from Ulysse almost got things started in the 15’ but Felix Chankam’s effort was blocked by a last-ditch effort from T2. Unfortunately, the fun free flowing attack was interrupted by quick Portland attack in the 30’.
Mou Jadama played a clever cross-field ball to Jimmy Mulligan who found himself unmarked down the right wing. He played in a cross that just beat Tony Alfaro and left both Sam Rogers and Calle Brown flat footed. Either of them should have stopped in but the ball found its way to Williams who tapped it into an empty net.
Luckily, after the T2 goal Hinds found his footing. The athletic left back turned left winger was a terror down Portland’s right side for the remainder of the half. His movement bore it first fruits in the 42’ when he was able to draw a penalty with some nifty play in the box. After encouraging the fans just behind the goal to make some noise, Chenkam confidently stepped up and hit the penalty shot into the side netting to even the score.
Hinds was not done. Just three minutes later a excellent crossfield pass from Dylan Teves found him open down the wing, Hinds passed the ball into Olsen who laid the ball off with a clever backheel. Hinds was able to beat two T2 defenders to the ball and, while sliding, guide it over Alex Mengels into the top right corner of the goal. S2 took a 2-1 lead into half.
In the opening 10 or so minutes of the second half S2 continued to push and looked most likely to score. But as will happen in a season opener things dropped off a bit after the 60’, more so for S2. Despite a few break away chances for S2, mainly from substitute Jake Morris, T2 dominated the game from the 60’ onward. Missing both Ray Saari and Francisco Narbon left S2 a bit exposed in the middle and it really began to show as everyone tired.
T2 had chance after chance in the final third of the game but S2 were able to do just enough to keep the ball out of the net. And sometimes that is all you can ask for.
A draw probably would have been a fairer result but S2 put together a good performance, including 45 minutes of electrifyingly promising attacking, and with the help of the home crowd, earned the win.
Calle Brown; Denso Ulysse, Sam Rogers - captain, Tony Alfaro, Ibrahim Usman; Dylan Teves, Cameron Martin, Shandon Hopeau (David Estrada 58’), David Olsen, Nick Hinds (Jake Morris 65’); Felix Chenkam (Ray Serrano 77’).
T2 - Augustine Williams (Jimmy Mulligan) 30’
S2 - Felix Chenkam 43’
S2 - Nick Hinds (David Olsen) 45’