The match between Seattle Sounders FC 2 and Rio Grande Valley FC on Saturday night was a bit of a mess. Both teams were clearly disrupted by the whims of their parent clubs and impeded by a bad grass field that was bumpy and uneven in the 18 and near the touch lines, and featured several divots bigger than a Bible.
As one would expect under such conditions, both teams struggled to string passes together and a lot of the first half was played in the middle third. Unfortunately, the historically anemic RGV FC attack was able to get an early goal thanks to a mistake from S2. In the 16’ Tyler Miller had a poor pass intercepted near the top of the 18 by Jorginho James. This left Miller severely out of position and James was able to chip the ball over Miller into the back of the net.
Rio Grande Valley are not a team to which one can afford to fall behind, but S2 were able to find an equalizer just before half. A solid Ray Saari corner found Riley Grant free in the box, who then cleverly flicked the ball across the goal where it landed just inside the far post to make it 1-1.
S2 made all three substitutes at half and paid for it dearly. The decidedly second choice block of Brian Nana-Sinkam, Riley Grant, Lorenzo Ramos, and Zach Mathers could not contain Rio Grande when they decided to attack and S2 were punished twice in three minutes starting at the 62’.
The first goal was scored by Ruben Luna when, as the lone man in the box, he was left unattended at the top of the six. A simple cross by TJ Casner found Luna wide open who tapped in what has to be one of the easiest goals he has scored. The second came in the 65’ when David Olsen simply lost his mark on a Rio Grande Valley free kick. He allowed Ivan Magalhaes to run past him and the RGV man was left with a simple tap in volley at the back post.
There are not many USL teams capable of overcoming a two goal deficit against Rio Grande Valley and S2 were no different. For the rest of the half RVG FC packed it in and relied on their sturdy defense. S2 had possession almost the entirety of the final 20 minutes and spent it mostly pumping in aimless crosses. No one on S2 was able to provide the moment of creativity to truly break down Rio Grande. S2 did have a few chances to score on some missed clearances but no one could apply the finish and S2 ended the game with only a single shot on goal.
The game was most notable for some disappointing performances from First Team players and S2 will be better off in their next game when Ezra Hendrickson will be able to pick his own lineup and substitutions.
Tyler Miller; Denso Ulysse, Rodrigue Ele (Nouhou HT), Brian Nana-Sinkam, Riley Grant; Ray Saari (Zach Mathers HT), Lorenzo Ramos; David Olsen, Charles Renken, Aaron Kovar (Jamie Dimitroff HT); Milo Barton
Ray Saari (CDM)
This game was not really a great one for evaluating the players of S2 but Saari truly stuck out again in his 45 minutes. He was the lone force of purposeful possession in the first half. His long forward cross field passes in the 26’ and 30’ were particularly impressive. Saari was also excellent on corners after taking over for a struggling Aaron Kovar late in the first half. He assisted the lone S2 goal and had three chances created in just 45 minutes.
It was very obvious when he was subbed out as the central midfield became a gaping hole that Rio Grande Valley waltzed through whenever they felt like it. They also missed his creativity in the second half. It is becoming increasingly clear that Ray Saari is the engine that makes this S2 team run.
First Team call up power rankings
- Ray Saari (-)
- Irvin Parra (↑1)
- David Olsen(↓1)
- Denso Ulysse (-)
- Sam Rogers (-)