TACOMA — Seattle Sounders 2 played one of their best matches of the season this afternoon. They faced off against Orange County SC, a team near the top of the table and in great form, and looked equal or better in all areas of the game beside set pieces. S2 showed they can be dangerous on the counter and in possession while being solid on defense against a side that has scored more than 50 goals this season. They did let in one goal off of a set piece but otherwise held Orange County at bay. The young Sounders got a goal each from Jesse Daley and Shandon Hopeau. Unfortunately the latter’s goal was incorrectly disallowed so the official score ended 1-1 and S2 only got one point from a match that should have gotten them more.
S2 started the match a bit tentative which allowed Orange County to dominate possession and have the best chances for the first 10 minutes. Despite being up against it a bit S2 did do a great job of keeping Orange County out of truly dangerous areas so there was never any real threat from Orange County.
After those first 10 minutes S2 settled into the game and started to look very dangerous on the counter. Almost immediately the countering strategy payed off and S2 got the games opening goal in the 12’. After repelling an Orange County attack Daley quickly lead S2 up the field. He had Henry Wingo running with him out wide and the Aussie midfielder timed his pass to Wingo perfectly. This left Wingo with a ton of space and only Andre Rawls in front of him. He hit his shot a little too close to the Orange County keeper though, who was able to stop it with a small move to his left. Luckily the rebound was poorly controlled and found its way out to Daley who had followed his pass into the final third. Daley took a perfect touch to his left to clear himself some space to shoot and blasted it by Rawls from 20 yards out for his second S2 goal to make it 1-0.
After their goal S2 continued to absorb pressure and pick their moments to explode up the field. Wingo, Daley and Denso Ulysse all looked exceptionally dangerous on the counter and there is no telling how many goals S2 could have scored in this one if their was a more traditional striker waiting in the box as their target.
As the half wore on a fairly obvious weakness began to appear for S2 as Orange County came close to scoring on corners and set pieces around the box over and over again. S2 just didn’t seem to have an answer for the physicality and movement of the older USL side. Near the end of the half S2 were able to gain some possession which allowed them to limit Orange County’s set pieces so they were able to escape the first half without conceding.
In the second half S2 continued to give Orange County set pieces and they eventually paid for it. In the 57’ Aodhan Quinn sent a quality ball towards the top of the six off of a corner. Several S2 players looked like they might have a chance to clear it but Alex Crognale simply out jumped all of them and sent a glancing header beyond Bryan Meredith to even the score 1-1.
It was immediately after they conceded that S2 wanted to win this match and they started putting Orange County under immense amounts of pressure. OCSC didn’t have an answer for Ulysse’s speed down the right side. Unfortunately Ulysse was a bit to quick and usually found himself with out any good targets in the box.
S2 had a bunch of almost chances but there first truly great chance for the winner came through Shandon Hopeau. In the 84’ David Estrada sent a scoop pass over the Orange County backline where Hopeau brought it down with his chest and than took an excellent long touch forward that allowed him to burst past the remaining Orange County defenders. From there he was able to calmly strike it past the ‘keeper to give S2 the lead... but then the AR put up his flag and pointed to his bicep, indicating he believed Hopeau had controlled the ball with his arm. The center referee listened to his AR and disallowed the goal for a handball that didn’t happen. The game ended 1-1.
It is frustrating to lose because of a blatantly wrong call, and it must be especially hard for Hopeau who was robbed of a game winner because of something he did not do. That said it was an extraordinary effort from S2 and they extend there home unbeaten streak to four. That seemed an impossibility just a couple months ago. S2 has proved they are now more than just the future. They are also a fun, exciting and good team right now.