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Seattle Sounders FC 2 2018 season preview

A look at what lies ahead for S2 in their first season in Tacoma

Max Aquino

A lot of things changed this offseason for Seattle Sounders FC 2. They left Starfire, the only home they had ever had, and moved on from Ezra Hendrickson, the head coach who had been with them since their inaugural season. Despite all those changes, when S2 take to Cheney Field at 7 PM on Friday night under coach John Hutchinson, the goal will be the same as it ever was: Develop players for the First Team.

The goal of “Develop players for the first team” can feel a little bit nebulous and is sometimes hard to follow, so here are a few subplots, if you will, to follow this season.

New Home, New Advantage

There are certainly things to like about Starfire Stadium. The atmosphere the close confines created and S2’s success against T2 in Tukwila are definite plusses. However, Starfire just didn’t provide S2 with the home-field advantage it should have. The crowds were almost always sparse and the small pitch with horrible turf did not play to S2’s strengths.

The move to Cheney Stadium gives S2 a real chance to establish a fortress similar to what CenturyLink is for the First Team. The pitch still won’t be perfect but it will be a lot better, and there will almost certainly be more fans. Cheney Stadium is also a temporary solution, but it can be a true home for S2 over the next few years.

The Battle at Left Back

S2 have already provided the First Team with a quality LB in Nouhou, but it looks like they could provide another one in the next couple season. After struggling with the position last season, S2 appear to have three excellent young options at left back this year. Nick Hinds joins after two successful years at Akron, Jake Morris is back after recovering from an ACL rupture last season and has been tearing it up with the Academy, and Ibrahim Usman was signed out of Nigeria in the offseason. It is unclear who is the favored starter right now but it looks likely to be a battle throughout the season.

The Development of the Young

This year S2 will start the season with a 15-year-old, Ray Serrano, and a 16-year-old, Azriel Gonzalez, on the roster. This is not only exciting because of their immense potential, but also because it gives those without the ability to consistently watch the Academy play the chance to see how the Sounders develop a player from a young age. It will be rewarding to see how these young players improve over not just this season, but the next 2 or 3.

The Trio That Could Get a First Team Call-up

According to Scott

Ray Saari

The defensive midfielder was S2’s best and most consistent player last year, but fell short of winning a First Team contract in the offseason. Saari has stated that the First Team has told him the areas on which they would like him to work this season. If he improves enough in those areas, the First Team could come calling.

Sam Rogers

The Academy product improved a lot as a centerback last season but still needs to become a lot more consistent. If he can put together a run of games where he is solid for 90 minutes he could earn a First Team contract.

Felix Chenkam

Chenkam is not quite ready for MLS play but he is the best forward on S2’s roster, and with the First Teams current situation at forward he could be an injury away from getting the call. His hold-up play and decisive runs in the box would actually complement the Sounders stacked attacking midfield well, so it might turn out better than expected.

According to Dave

David Olsen

Olsen is playing in the hole, kind of in the Dempsey role, but also up top at times. He spent last year learning the tactics, now if he integrates his trying-stuff skills that made him a quality player in Academy and college he can give quality minutes to a First Team desperate for goals.

Sam Rogers

Most of what the Ballard High grad needs to learn has to do with the pressure available at higher levels. While he’s nowhere close to being ready to be a regular starter at the MLS leve,l there are spot starts available in mid-Summer.

Fransisco Narbón

He may only be 23 but Narbón is entering his third pro year and already has a smattering of appearances with Panama. The thing is that if Narbón can’t show the Sounders that he’s ready they probably lose him. That would be a waste of resources when a player with the international and pro pedigree at such a young age.

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