Who wants more trophies? If you don't want more, stop reading now but if you do keep reading. Sounders 2 is just tearing through the USL Western Conference. Sure they've had a few downtrodden road trips and Sergio may have kicked a guy in the balls and the club got blown out at home (only once) to a low table side, but overall we sit tied for first through 16 matches with the game in hand on last year's defending champions. Sounds pretty good, right?
I know that it shows we are in first place but never trust the USL website because it turns out alphabetical is not even how to organize a standings page anymore (it was for about the first six games). Goal differential is the third tie-breaker in the USL, but it goes head-to-head and then wins. The sides have played twice and are each 1-0-1 with wins at home. On total wins, both sit at nine currently. Because of that, the Sounders sit in second to Sacramento Republic with a +6 versus a +9 GD, not insurmountable by any means.
With win, @SoundersFC2 (9-5-2, 29 pts) level with @SacRepublicFC in pts atop West; SAC maintains 1st place on goal differential #PORvSEA— USL (@USL) June 30, 2015
S2 is going to have a better July roster than the first team with Damion Lowe coming back into the fold and while he can play for both sides, having him and Jimmy Ockford available for the first team and S2 while Ashani Fairclough, who saw his first minutes last night, Nick Miele and Aaron Long all available at CB will give S2 the defensive strength it needs to get through a handful of tough matches. Oalex Anderson will also return to the fold for the first time in two months after spending time with the St. Vincent's youth and senior national teams.
A lite month based on games, only four total but with some big name opponents in the mix. S2 will travel to BC again to play Whitecaps 2 then host a scrappy Arizona United side a week later. They'll travel to Colorado for their first match against the Colorado Springs Switchbacks this season, who are currently ranked 4th. Lastly they come back to Starfire to face off with Timbers 2, a side they beat 2-0 last night, and who the Sounders are 4-0-0 against (including USOC) this season.
The selection dilemma will get interesting for a few matches with the 1st team traveling at the same time as S2. Here's a nifty chart to know where each team will be:
|Sounders MLS||Sounders 2 USL|
|July 3rd - Home v. DC||July 4th - @ Vancouver|
|July 11th - @ Chicago||July 12th - Home v. AZ|
|July 18th - Home Col.||July 18th - @ Colorado|
|July 25th - @ Montreal||July 24th - Home v. T2|
For this weekend's matches the games lineup fairly well, a player can suit up against DC and still suit up as a sub against Vancouver (potentially start) like Darwin Jones did in Portland last weekend. For the rest of the matches, it will not be so simple. With call-ups and injuries, S2 will be fairly reliant on their contracted players and academy as opposed to loanees.
Side note: The Colorado Springs Switchbacks sound like they are owned by the Colorado Rapids, right? Or are at least the USL Affiliate because who would not want their affiliate to be only an hour away. Well...common sense did not win out here. The Rapids affiliate is the Charlotte Independence and Colorado Springs is unaffiliated.
The beast that is the USL has a crazy structure, S2 will not play any Eastern Conference sides during the regular season. Then to add more fun to playing in the Western Conference, some teams you play twice (like Colorado Springs and Austin) and some teams you play four times (like the Cascadia sides) and sometimes just three (like Sacramento). The schedule construction is to mitigate travel for teams because some, like the OC Blues, are on a very tight budget. This makes for a very unbalanced schedule and you could be playing the best sides a lot.
S2 has twelve games left in this unbalanced craziness and things are going to get interesting. Using the current standings the Sounders play playoff teams in five of the 12 matches, which is pretty good. We play three teams twice, with only one of those sides being a playoff side (Colorado). S2 faces Sacramento and LA II in August, the two teams with the biggest threat to us winning the league.
The one thing I never talk about in USL updates or the weekly recap, the
Eastern Conference Forbidden Zone. The side with the least points in the entire league, FC Montreal with five points, and the side with the most, Rochester Rhinos with 32 points. It is safe to say the team with the most points at the end of the season will be coming from the east. Like MLS, the east has some strong teams like the Rhinos and the Charleston Battery as well as some extremely weak ones like FC Montreal and the Wilmington Hammerheads.
If you think the Rhinos are going to run away with it and that makes you unhappy, this should cheer you up:
S2 has their work cut out for them with a handful of tough teams and a selection issue that will only grow as the travel constraints of July grow. Oalex Anderson and his amazing goals will be back from the Caribbean soon and S2 will prepare to make a late run into the box that is 1st place. Youth development is the most important part but this club has set themselves up to make a run at trophies and are in prime position to win the West.