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Shandon Hopeau and Irvin Parra bright spots as Sounders 2 fall

An impressive first 15 minutes by S2 ended up overshadowed by a dismal final 30.

Shandon Hopeau impressed in his first 45 minutes as a professional.
Max Aquino

Playing their first game of the USL season against Sacramento Republic FC was always going to be a tough ask for Seattle Sounders FC 2. The two teams occupy opposite ends of the USL. S2 is full of amateurs and brand new professionals where Sacramento is a team of USL and MLS veterans who are fresh off of a Western Conference regular season championship. Sacramento played USL and MLS competition in the preseason while S2 played college teams in scrimmages that were more tryouts than tuneups.

Given the circumstances and the team’s differing purposes, S2 came out and played pretty well. The first 15 minutes of the match saw S2 perfectly execute a stifling press that resulted in turnovers, corners and the set piece that led to S2’s goal. They employed the press off and on for the next 45 minutes and were largely successful in limiting Sacramento’s chances despite considerable shakiness defending crosses.

Unfortunately everything came apart in the final 30 minutes of the game. The press became uncoordinated and some of the players, whether through fatigue or unwillingness, seemed unable to participate in it at all. Along with the deteriorated press, the back six began to show their inexperience. As the pressure mounted calm, smart play out of the back and in transition turned into wild clearances and hopeful, inaccurate long balls. In the end, S2 were lucky to give up only the two goals in the game’s final 30 minutes. Despite the souring conclusion, though, there was actually quite a bit to like about S2’s first competitive minutes of the season.

Lineup (4-2-3-1):

Bryan Meredith; Ethan Lotenero, Sam Rogers, Riley Grant, Brian Nana-Sinkam; Ray Saari, Francisco Narbon, Lorenzo Ramos (Joe Hafferty 60'), Shandon Hopeau (Seyi Adekoya 50'), David Olsen; Irvin Parra (Felix Chenkam 73')

Top Performers

Brian Nana-Sinkam

In preseason, Brian Nana-Sinkam played both RB and CB for S2 but injuries and the First Team friendly forced him into a new position, left back. He was by no means a revelation at the position but his solid performance portends a possible future as a solid flex option for the First Team. Nana-Sinkam looked surprisingly capable getting forward and put in a few solid crosses. He looked comfortable defending in the corners and wasn’t beaten one on one. He also scored his first professional goal.

Irvin Parra

Irvin Parra’s experience as a professional was evident and he was by far the most consistent Sounder in his 73 minutes on the field. He was in charge of initiating the press and did so very effectively. Parra’s holdup play continues to improve and he popped up all over the field to provide passing outlets. It was his clever set piece ball that found Nana-Sinkam in the box for S2’s lone goal. Every minute Parra gets at CF sees him improve and his passing from that position is excellent. On his current path it would not be a surprise to see him get some time with the First Team during Open Cup games.

Shandon Hopeau

The young Hawaiian looked perfectly comfortable in his first minutes getting paid to play soccer. He was part of the trio, along with Parra and Ray Saari, that so effectively implemented the press in the first half. Hopeau was actual the most adept at putting the final foot in to create the turnover and looks a good tackler, especially for a player so far forward on the field. A good example of Hopeau’s playing style came in the 17’ when the attacking midfielder took on a player, cut inside and got off a left-footed curler from the top of the box that went just a yard wide. Unfortunately Hopeau had to come off the field with an apparent head injury just minutes after half. His departure was a blow to S2 and they clearly missed his direct aggressive play for the remainder of the game.

Best performance by an Academy player

Sam Rogers was the best Sounders academy player on the field in a somewhat new position for him. At the Academy level, Rogers has largely been a defensive midfielder but the Sounders seem interested in giving him time at CB. Early in the game, Rogers showed some excellent forward passing which is a must in Brian Schmetzer’s system. As the game went on, his inexperience showed and his passing deteriorated a bit and he turned to quick clearances even when there may have been time to pick his head up. Rogers used his angles well on several occasions to push dangerous attacks wide and showed a pretty decent understanding of where he needed to be as a CB. That said it was clear that the closer he was to his own box the less comfortable he was. He struggled to deal with crosses and stepped up to players when he should have backed off. He looked much more at home near the halfway line and made some impressive interceptions. Defensive midfield still looks the position at which he has the most potential.

First Team call up power rankings

  1. Irvin Parra
  2. Shandon Hopeau
  3. Brian Nana-Sinkam

Other Notes

  • While he didn’t have a great game, David Olsen’s potential is intriguing. He has excellent control in tight spaces and makes clever runs into the box. He disappeared for large parts of this game though and more time is needed to get a look at his true ability at the professional level.
  • If Seyi Adekoya is going to take time from some of the younger players he needs to put in a better effort. He was out of position almost the entire time he was on the field and provided almost no defensive help even when S2 was heavily pinned back. Some of that could be because he played a few minutes the night earlier but he will need to prove that was the case in future performances.

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