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S2 Player Recaps: The Loanees

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A look at the players signed to the First Team who saw time with S2 this season.

Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

Time for part two of this thing. Feel free to check out part one again. This installment of the S2 player recaps will cover the players who were/are on a First team contract who also saw time with S2. There is not a ton more to say so let's get to the players.

Zach Mathers (Attacking Midfielder, 22 Starts, 1,971 minutes)

Mathers’ move to the First Team this year ended up being a move only on paper. He spent almost all of his time with S2 again this season and was unable to manage even much bench time with the First Team. That said, he was far and away the best player for S2 for much of the year. His shots from outside the 18 are the best in the organization, and when he receives the ball at the top of the box there is no one more dangerous in the USL.

The organization have made it no secret that they hoped Mathers would develop into a box to box midfielder but he has never obliged and the team seems to have accepted that Mathers will likely remain a purely attacking midfielder. Unfortunately, this means his chances of remaining with the Sounders are slim. While he is dynamic when he has the ball, he is just too weak defensively and in possession to justify his inclusion in an MLS side.

Further Evaluations: 2016 evaluation, vs OKC

Notable Stats: 11 goals and 2.56 key passes per 90.

2018 Projection: The Sounders picked up his option, so he will at least have a chance to fight it out in preseason. Most his minutes will be with S2.

Long term projection: He could easily be one of the best players in the USL if a team is willing to craft their starting lineup around him. There is still a chance he could someday be a fringe MLS withdrawn striker.

Tyler Miller (GK, 22 Starts, 1,950 minutes)

The most important thing to note about Miller is that he has definitely improved some of his weaknesses this year. He has gotten much better at handling crosses and distributing from the back, though he still has some work to do there. His reflexes remain elite and he routinely made stunning, sometime unbelievable saves.

All of that said, there are two things that keep Miller from being an MLS caliber goalkeeper at the moment. His judgement and decision making when he comes off his line and his footwork on low shots. He really needs to improve both of those areas of his game to even be a reliable backup MLS keeper. These are things that can be improved upon with work and experience, and given his improvements this year, I am confident he will.

Further Evaluations: 2016 evaluation, at San Antonio

Notable Stats: 3.36 saves per 90 and a 64.9% save percentage

2018 Projection: Was taken in the expansion draft. Will either remain with LAFC or get traded to another MLS side

Long term projection: His reflexes and reach means he has the ability to be a top-3 MLS keeper, but he will need to work hard over the next 3-5 years to reach that potential.

Henry Wingo (AM/CDM/RB, 9 starts, 862 minutes)

The former University of Washington player is an extremely exciting prospect. He is dynamic going forward and his willingness to take players on one-on-one is something the Sounders can always use more of. His combination of power and speed is simply to much for most USL defenders. He does need to improve on his decision making after he beats the first player, to often he continues to dribble and gets dispossessed when a cross or simple pass would break things wide open.

He is also extremely dangerous when he is able to cut inside and I predict we will see him put in his fair share of curlers for the First Team (Exhibit A, Exhibit B).

Wingo also made a few appearances at right back when the organization was testing out many players there. He really struggled there and it is pretty clear that his future with the Sounders is not at RB or in central midfield but out on the wing.

Further Evaluations: RB in the Open Cup

Notable Stats: 2 Goals and 76% passing in the offensive half.

2018 Projection: If he can learn to get himself involved quicker when coming of the bench he could be a dynamic sub for the First Team, but he is probably better served by getting more time with S2 next year

Long term projection: He could very well put up Neagle type numbers in MLS, but with less downside in possession.

Bryan Meredith (GK, 8 starts, 720 minutes)

Meredith is a more well rounded GK than Miller at this point, but he doesn’t have near the ceiling. Meredith’s most glaring weakness is his distribution, to the point that the First Team might have to change their play from the back style if Meredith were forced into a start. That said he is as good a 3rd MLS keeper as a team could hope for.

Further Evaluations: N/A

Notable Stats: 2 shutouts and a 67% save rate in 8 starts.

2018 Projection: Meredith was re-signed by the Sounders and will likely continue on as the team’s third option.

Long term projection: I’m not sure he ever claims a starting spot, but if he wants he will have the long career of a perpetual 2nd/3rd MLS keeper journeyman.

Seyi Adekoya (FWD/AM, 6 starts, 548 minutes)

Adekoya is a tough one for me. In his one MLS appearance he didn’t look completely out of place, but for large parts of this S2 season he looked to have no business in the USL. It got so bad that their was a time in the middle of the season where he was pulled at half in consecutive games for performance related reasons. He is a bit of a mystery for me.

All that said he does have one elite, though often overrated, skill in his straight line speed. That alone probably secures him another few years to work on his game. Right now, neither his strength or balance are near good enough to bang around with USL, let alone MLS, level centerbacks consistently. He played exclusively up top for S2 this year but he may need to be moved out to the wing if he wants to succeed in the USL.

Further Evaluations: N/A

Notable Stats: 1 goal and 0 assists in 13 appearences

2018 Projection: Adekoya is probably around for another year thanks to his HGP status.

Long term projection: If he has a future in MLS I think it will be on the wing, but barring huge improvements his future looks a bit more like Darwin Jones’ than Ugo’s.

Nouhou (LB, 5 starts, 450 minutes)

We all saw what Nouhou is capable of in his many minutes with the First Team this year. He has become a formidable one-on-one defender and an excellent covering defender. While he was with the First Team his offensive abilities took a back seat with Jones and Lodeiro handling most of the offensive responsibilities. Don’t be fooled though, Nouhou has a lot to give on the offensive side, and with his defense fully up to snuff we are likely to see a lot more of it next season.

With S2, Nouhou had shown himself to be an excellent crosser and a formidable dribbler. As his confidence grows at the MLS level I suspect we will see a lot more of Nouhou’s low, hard crosses find their way into the stat book as assists.

Further Evaluations: 2016 evaluation, at Los Dos

Notable Stats: 84.6% tackle success rate.

2018 Projection: The starting LB spot on the first team looks to be his to lose.

Long term projection: He could be an MLS starter for the next decade, but if he continues to improve at his current rate he might be sold to another league sooner rather than later.

Jordy Delem (RB/CDM, 5 starts, 424 minutes)

Delem spent most of his S2 time at right back this year, mostly in an attempt to get him experience at the new position injuries forced him into for the First Team. He didn’t look great at RB with S2 and there really isn’t much to learn from his S2 time this year, besides, well, he isn’t a right back.

Further Evaluations: 2016 evaluation

Notable Stats: 3.2 interceptions per game but a 33% tackle success rate.

2018 Projection: Will likely have competition for his end of the roster defensive midfield spot in preseason but is likely to hang around with the First Team.

Long term projection: I see him developing into a solid MLS backup DM.

Tony Alfaro (CB, 3 starts, 270 minutes)

Alfaro made a few appearances with S2 this year, likely just to stave off rust, but didn’t do himself any favors. This is the second season in a row where he was out shown by his S2 CB partner, last year it was Delem and this year it was both Rogers and Ele.

Further Evaluations: 2016 evaluation

Notable Stats: Won 100% of his tackles.

2018 Projection: Will start the preseason in the pole position for the 3rd/4th CB spot but will be challenged by Ele and Rogers.

Long term projection: Alfaro could eventually become a decent backup MLS CB, but he has a lot of work to do.

Callum Mallace (CDM, 3 starts, 221 minutes)

Mallace was probably signed to give Delem some competition for minutes. Made some appearances with S2 but never overtook Delem.

Further Evaluations: N/A

Notable Stats: Won 100% of his tackles and completed 88.9 % of his passes.

2018 Projection: He most likely won’t be with the Sounders as they declined his option but he will probably get a shot at the back end of an MLS roster.

Long term projection: I haven’t seen him play enough to make any meaningful statements.

Harry Shipp (CDM, 3 starts, 220 minutes)

Shipp played in defensive midfield three times but didn’t show particularly well further back. He struggled to cover the ground necessary and didn’t bring the extra offensive punch one would expect him to. His minutes with S2 didn’t provide any particular insight.

Further Evaluations: N/A

Notable Stats: Lost 60% of his duels.

2018 Projection: Will likely remain with the Sounders as a depth piece.

Long term projection: Shipp has probably about hit his ceiling. He is a decent MLS depth piece.

Aaron Kovar (AM, 3 starts, 206 minutes)

Kovar didn’t do much with S2 this year. The most notable thing about his appearances is that he no longer looked like far and away the best player on the field, which he did last season when he played in the USL.

Further Evaluations: 2016 evaluation

Notable Stats: 54.5% passing accuracy in opponents half.

2018 Projection: Looks set to spend another year trying to become a regular in the Sounders lineup.

Long term projection: He still has the skill and athleticism that has long made him an intriguing prospect on the wing, but with each passing year the chance of him becoming a regular starter diminishes.