This past week was a tough one for Seattle Sounders FC 2. They had two winnable games against Phoenix Rising FC and Tulsa Roughnecks FC. Had they won both games they would have been right back in the playoff hunt, even four points would have had them in shouting distance, but they didn’t manage a single point, and are now all but mathematically out of the race. While making the playoffs would have been more of a bonus to an already good year, it is still disappointing to have fallen off so much in the past two months.
Their first match last week was against Tulsa, and it was a game S2 mostly dominated. They had more possession, over 100 more completed passes along with 21 shots, 6 of which were on target. Despite this they just couldn’t find a way to get the ball into the net. Some good saves and the post kept S2 scoreless. Unfortunately S2 were unable to hold Tulsa scoreless. In the 72’ Juan Pablo Caffa sent a decent corner into the middle of the box, where Francisco Ugarte hit a volley right at Brain Meredith, who was somehow unable to keep the ball out. That would be how the game ended, Tulsa 1-0 S2.
S2 then headed down to Phoenix to face the Didier Drogba’s on Saturday. Drogba didn’t play and the match looked much like the one against Tulsa. S2 again dominated possession, this time out passing their opponent by almost 200, but weren’t able to get in as many shots, with only 10 total and 3 on target. S2’s midfield was a bit porous in this one but the backline was excellent and were able to keep the clean sheet for just about 80 minutes, but from there things fell apart.
In the 78’ AJ Gray was able to run through the midfield and backline then chipped a ball to the back post where Amadou Dia was able to nod it in from about 0 yards. In stoppage time Saari nearly leveled it with a powerful shot from outside the box, but it was just saved by the goalie. Moments later Tyler Miller had his pocket picked by Jason Johnson who then walked the ball into the net to put the game out of reach. It finished Phoenix 2-0 S2.
Ray Saari (CDM)
In the Tulsa game Saari was his normal, frankly, superb self. He was all over the place, winning 10/17 duels, completing 85% of his team high 67 passes. He also had 5 tackles, 2 interceptions and 6 recoveries. It is easy to take for granted how much Saari does for this S2 team. He is so steady that if you aren’t paying attention you can forget what he brings.
This was actually illustrated quite well during the Phoenix game. It was the first match in a long while that Saari didn’t start, and even with First Teamer Jordy Delem in his place, Saari’s absence was immediately evident. Without Saari the midfield was a leaky sieve and S2 struggled to transition from defense to offense. Saari just covers so much ground, and positions himself so expertly that there isn’t a player in the Sounders system, short of Osvaldo Alonso and Cristian Roldan, who can replicate what he does for S2.
Rodrigue Ele (CB)
Ele made his first start in a long time against Phoenix, and boy has S2 missed him. He completely dominated the game against Phoenix and showed no signs of rust. Ele’s defense is spectacular, he held down the backline practically by himself despite a struggling midfield in front of him. I’m not sure if I can overstate just how good of a game Ele had. He had 2 tackles, 3 interceptions, 5 clearances and 7 recoveries. He is excellent at stepping forward and squashing attacks before they can really get started. S2 have also missed his passing out of the back, which was steady as normal and included quite a few decisive long balls that cut out whole lines of the Phoenix defense. Without Ele, S2 might lose the game against Phoenix by a much larger margin.
First Team call up power rankings
- Ray Saari (-)
- Felix Chenkam (-)
- Rodrigue Ele (-)
- Sam Rogers (↑1)
- Fransisco Narbón (NEW)