Turnover has been a fact of life for Seattle Sounders 2. Just three players under contract in 2015 were brought back last year and only one of the players signed by S2 in 2016 are back this year.
Although that overstates the degree to which the overall roster has changed from year to year — a host of Academy players and First-Teamers on loan will invariably have spent time with S2 last year, just as they did in 2016 — there’s no denying that continuity has been in short supply.
S2 head coach Ezra Hendrickson is hopeful that will change in the future.
“I think we’ve done what we wanted to do which was get younger, get some better players,” he said, noting that four of the 10 players already under contract played for their respective U20 teams. “We think we’ve done a good job of getting a good nucleus together that hopefully starting this year, the following year there won’t be as much turnover. We’ll have a better core and a larger core of guys.”
Hendrickson admitted that last year’s team — which won just one of their first 13 and missed the playoffs — simply wasn’t good enough. But he also pointed out that it still produced three players who were promoted to the First Team, leaving no doubt that producing talent for the First Team remains S2’s primary directive.
“If we’re losing guys because they are signing with the First Team that’s positive turnover,” he said. “Hopefully, the other turnover isn’t due to guys not performing or not being good enough. It’s a process. We’re three years in and I think we have a system where we can have a core group of guys who can be here 18 months to two years and then moving on to the first team, not we’re getting rid of them.”
Now entering its third year, the relationship between the First Team and S2 continues to evolve. The next step appears to be towards increased collaboration, with even more movement between the training sessions and coordination in player movement.
“Ezra and I have a good working relationship,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said. “We talk daily about players and training and how we train and they train and the nuances between the two.
“There’s hopefully going to be a lot more cohesion between the two groups and bringing that one layer lower with the academy as well — because Ezra depends on the academy — and I’m going to start calling up academy kids as well [for training]. Which academy kids, which players bypass S2, players that are doing well, all of those things we’re going to discuss in great detail to get as many decisions right as we can.”