Heading into my second match as the part of the broadcast for Seattle Sounders 2 (Tacoma) the goals were a bit different. No longer was it simply enough to survive. My notes were more organized as James Riley and I figured out our roles. There were a few things we changed, pushing ourselves to expand what we would contribute during pregame, halftime, and postgame.
Knowing that Fresno FC is an affiliate rather than fully independent, owned, or hybrid influenced how I approached my research and themes. The following were my main themes to address during the broadcast, beyond what happened on the pitch.
There were three players I wanted to highlight. We talked a lot about Juan Pablo Caffa as he was on the ball a ton, continually threatening the S2 goal whether by set-piece, great runs, or shots from distance. He’s a great signing for an indie team focusing on wins. He is also 33.
The other two I wanted to talk a bit about were Danny Barrera and Pedro Ribeiro.
Danny Barrera: If you remember him, it is because he is one of Eric Wynalda’s greatest discoveries from back in the Cal FC days. Barrera made a strong lower division career out of beating Portland and is now in his seventh pro season, having stints with Spartak Subotica, Atlanta Silverbacks, San Antonio Scorpions, North Carolina Railhawks, Sacramento Republic and now Fresno Foxes. Did I mention that he helped beat Portland when he played on an amateur team? I should have said that more often during the broadcast.
Pedro Ribeiro: The former 15th overall pick is a great symbol about the growth of US soccer’s lower division, even as some teams are in danger of folding. Ribeiro and keeper Kyle Reynish are guys who could drift around the fringes of MLS, barely, but at D2 they can be leaders and maybe even stars. Ribeiro offers a huge frame, strong technical skills and role flexibility. The 27-year-old forward/defensive midfielder has four goals in MLS play and 12 in all competitions and levels. An MLS squad should pick him up, if he doesn’t mind moving again. He won’t live up to his MLS Combine hype, but he’s a strong D2 contributor and can help a team with depth issues.
Via Twitter DM, Caleb from 86Forever gave strong praise to Sean Melvin. Melvin already has a cap with Canada and somehow isn’t beating long-term fringe 34-year-old keeper Kyle Reynish for time. If the Thundercaps still existed, the choice would be simple. But Fresno are trying to win games, so Reynish got the nod on the night. That said, he may lose his role at some point.
Noah Verhoeven started, going 62 minutes. The former Whitecaps II player is still just 18 and on loan down to the affiliate. His performance was strong enough that Vancouver should be happy with how he did. Verhoeven looked to get behind Ibrahim Usman while combining well with Barrera and Christian Chaney.
Rapid thoughts on S2 players
Scott will continue to provide recaps and breakdowns after a second (and sometimes third viewing).
- Bryan Meredith, keeper, 28, MLS contract: He had a lot of difficulty with distribution either due to the change in ball, or the odd sightlines at Cheney Stadium.
- Ibrahim Ulysse, left back, 18, USL contract: Was most interesting as an odd LB/CB hybrid during the late formation that was kind of like a 1-3-2-3-1.
- Fransisco Narbon, centerback, 23, USL contract: Extraordinary performance as the LCB in a DeLaGarza mold with few mistakes. Expect Scott to write about Narbon.
- Rodrigue Ele, centerback/holding mid, 20, USL contract: Had to defend height on set-pieces all night, fared well considering. Good on the ball.
- Denso Ulysse, right back, 19, USL contract: After getting worked by Swope Park, Ulysse was strong. Good use of switches. Gave space to his man so he wouldn’t be beat by speed. Great adjustment.
- Dylan Teves, defensive mid/wing, 17, Academy: Learning to use his lower center of gravity as an asset against a much larger Fresno team. Looked stronger on the ball, already an asset, when moved to the wing late.
- Ray Saari, defensive mid, 22, USL contract: Able to control counterattacks. Did get mouthy with the referee on a single occasion (yellow).
- Nick Hinds, left mid, 20, USL contract: Can dominate games with his speed and touch. Goal dangerous within seconds, even if he picks it up at the centerline. Still can’t go 90.
- David Olsen, center mid/forward, 22, USL contract: Plays with verve, though can take a bit to get going. Extraordinary ball awareness and control. Willing to press. May need to be more conservative in attack.
- Shandon Hopeau, right mid, 19, USL contract: Hugs the touchline to give other players space, but is best with ball at feet in channel just off center.
- Felix Chenkam, forward, 19, USL contract: Strong effort defensively, will want his shot that went one foot wide back.
- David Estrada, forward (on for Chenkam), 30, USL contract: Didn’t combine as well with Olsen as needed.
- RJ Stretch, right mid (on for Hinds, switched with Hopeau), 18, Academy contract: Aggressive going both ways, tried to inject energy into team that needed it.
- Cameron Martin, defensive mid (on for Saari, formation dramatically switched), 17, Academy contract: Not much action with the ball, but gave S2 opportunity to get into a hyper-aggressive shape.
Phrases for the future
I wanted to work in “enemy’s goal is down” and/or “natural 20.” I’m still scared to give my flavor to the show. I will get there, naturally, but often I just get lost listening to Riley talk.
I wanted to dunk on Oklahoma City. I tried, and failed as I stumbled over my delivery. But I got the rebound and finished the layup.
I managed only one Red Card Wedding reference. I’m proud of my self control.
The next home match is April 11 against Real Monarchs SLC. We are already planning on adding a new layer to what we’re doing. We’re going to interact with viewers during the game.