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S2 struggles continue in Sacramento but season remains successful

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The young USL side were not good Sunday night, but there is still a lot to be pleased with.

Seattle Sounders FC 2 were unable to stop the rot against Sacramento Republic FC late Sunday night in a 2-0 loss. It was the USL outfits least inspiring performance of the year. Besides Sam Fowler, who had an impressive 8 saves, everyone on the team played below what they are capable of. Some of that is likely due to the expected mid-season fatigue of first year professionals and some due to more veteran teams discovering and exploiting S2’s weaknesses.

This was a match that looked to be an excellent chance to get things back on track, but early on it was clear that S2 would continue to stumble. A bad moment in the 3’ served as a warning of what was to was come. Sam Rogers had the ball near the left sideline and passed the ball dangerously back through the middle to no one. Only some excellent work from Fowler (though he was lucky not to concede a penalty) kept it from becoming an easy chance for Sacramento.

Republic got their first goal in the 17’ when former Sounder Sammy Ochoa put in an excellent cross from the top of the box. Jackson Ragen made a foolhardy attempt to step up and pull Trevin Caesar offside but he was kept on by several other S2 players. Caesar then stepped into the space vacated by Ragen and volleyed the ball into the net from 10 yards out.

S2 struggled the rest of the first half, with their only real chance being a well struck, though speculative, free kick from Irvin Parra that went about 3 yards wide. Only some really poor finishing kept Sacramento to the single first half goal as they missed chance after chance.

In the 43’ injury was added to insult when Azriel Gonzalez had to be stretchered off the field with what looked like a brutal ankle injury (The team has confirmed Gonzalez sustained a right lateral ankle sprain. It looked like it could have been worse).

The second half was much like the first and aside from a few moments of skill from new signing Guy Edoa, there wasn’t much good happening for S2. They surrendered a second goal in the 60’ when a mishit cross from Tyler Blackwood floated over Fowler’s head and into the net. It was a fluke goal but much of the blame falls on Fowler. It was a ball that never went above the crossbar, and at this level, it is a ball a keeper has to be able to reach. That said, it was a small blight on what was otherwise a really good performance from Fowler.

S2 had their first decent spell of the game from the 70’-75’. Only an excellent save from the Republic keeper kept Brian Nana-Sinkam from claiming his 4th of the campaign and a few minutes later a looping 35 yard effort from Francisco Narbón was kept out only by the post.

After those two chances from S2 the game slowly died off and neither side had any good chances for the remainder. The 2-0 final score is probably a kind result for S2. They were completely dominated and could have lost by many more goals.

Lineup

Sam Fowler; Khai Brisco, Sam Rogers, Jackson Ragen, Brian Nana-Sinkam; Ray Saari, Lorenzo Ramos (Francisco Narbon 60'), David Olsen, Shandon Hopeau (Charles Renken 55'), Azriel Gonzalez (Guy Edoa 43'); Irvin Parra.

Perspective Reset

On the results side of things this season has gone from extremely encouraging to frustratingly mediocre in the last month. After this match I found myself particularly annoyed with the state of things. So, perhaps more for my benefit than anything else, I think now is a good time to take stock of how this season is actually going, in a more holistic sense, for S2.

At the beginning of the year I was asked, as part of a preview of the USL season, what it would take for this year to be a successful one for S2. I said if they accomplish two of the following three things it would be a great season:

1. The path from the Academy to S2 to the First Team becomes more well worn.

Without a doubt S2 has already accomplished this goal this season. Four players, Shandon Hopeau, Lorenzo Ramos, Gonzalez and Rogers, have been signed to S2 directly from the academy this season and three players, Zach Mathers, Jordy Delem and Nouhou, have been signed to the First Team from S2, with Nouhou and Delem both getting significant playing time. On top of that, a majority of this year’s S2 players have spent time practicing with the First Team, and a lot of them have seen actual First Team game time in friendlies and the U.S. Open Cup. On top of all of that, 19(!!!!!!) Academy players have seen real game time with S2 this year. It is pretty clear that their is now a clear path for #TheFuture.

2. At least one of the U20 internationals brought in get significant time with the First Team in the next 2-3 seasons.

This one is a lot harder to evaluate at this point in time, but the signs are promising. They have already accomplished this goal for last season, with Nouhou, a Cameroonian U20 international, becoming a bigger part of the first team picture by the minute. The biggest standout of the U20s this year has been Rodrigue Ele. He has shown himself to be a solid defender and an excellent passing CB. Two other players have shown real promise, but have been too oft injured to get a complete sense of their potential. Those are Felix Chenkam and Denso Ulysse. If I were to guess, I would say their is a 90% chance that one of the three is a regular bench player in the next 2-3 years and a 30% chance one of them is a starter. So, while it is yet to be seen how this actually plays out, I think the team has done about as well as one could hope on this point so far

3. They sneak into the playoffs.

If the season ended today S2 would be the last team from the Western Conference to qualify for the USL playoffs.

So, on the balance, I would say S2 has accomplished 2.75 out of 3 so far this season. To me, that indicates that they are in the middle of a very successful season. S2, and the Academy, have taken the next step in their evolution and the Sounders organization looks to be in a great place for the future.

First Team call up power rankings

  1. Ray Saari (-)
  2. Irvin Parra (-)
  3. Rodrigue Ele (-)
  4. Sam Rogers (-)
  5. David Olsen (NEW)