Wednesday’s match against Real Monarchs SLC was always gonna be a tough matchup for Seattle Sounders FC 2; the Monarchs are just a better team who are much more concerned with winning USL than S2 is. The mismatch was made worse by a bit of schedule congestion that saw the S2 staff decide to rest all of their first string field players in favor of Academy Players and First Teamers seeking match fitness.
It is an important part of S2 to get Academy Players game time, but the switch may have been too drastic in this case. As a result the match was dominated by the Monarchs, and they spent large swathes of the 90 minutes seemingly toying with the overmatched S2 side. In the end S2 only lost 3-1. Hopefully the young players can see the match a learning experience and not a demoralizing one. The organization put them in an impossible situation and they emerged with dignity intact, that is not a small thing, and speaks well of the makeup of the current Academy.
That is all a bit dower, and I think the organization made a mistake to throw that many young and/or out of game form players up against the Monarchs, but there were some positives, including the S2 return of Azriel Gonzalez and a certain bromeliad visitor in the stands.
Azriel Gonzalez (AM)
I was very impressed with the 16-year-old in his first S2 appearance of the season. He has amazing tactical savvy for such a young player. The first thing I noticed was that he was making smart runs in support of the striker. So often this year S2 has left their strikers isolated when they make runs in behind, but early on, in 4’ and 16’ you can see Gonzalez ready to run into space in and around the striker, which both makes the striker’s job easier and the attack more immediately dangerous. He also showed that he has the ability to be dangerous as the primary runner in the 18’ and 70’, the latter of which saw him get off one of S2’s few dangerous shots on the night. His movement was solid all night and I am excited to see how he can combine with David Olsen and Felix Chenkam if he gets the chance.
Gonzalez was also one of the few S2 players who was able to strike a reasonable balance between offense and defense. In addition to his solid offensive performance, which included 1 of S2’s 4 key passes and 1 of their 4 shots-on-target, he was able to add 2 tackles and 8 recoveries. Gonzalez did fade considerably near the end of the game but he looks ready to contribute serious minutes to the USL side this season.
Alex Roldan (AM/CDM)
Roldan was much better in this match then he was in his previous appearance against Swope Park Rangers. I was worried that things might fall apart when S2 removed Henry Wingo in favor of Roldan but his more disciplined, pass heavy style actually suited the team better. Roldan immediately brought another level of passing to an S2 side who had largely struggled to complete, or even really attempt, anything but the simplest pass in the first half. I was impressed with his vision and ability to bypass multiple lines with his passing which you can see in the 68’, 70’ and 78’. He stated in preseason that he believes he is a better passer than his older brother, and while I am not there yet, I can see where he gets the idea. Roldan also showed a much improved first touch in this match which he used well to bypass Monarch players in the 55’ and 68’. He provided S2 with their only two chances created on the night and his 85% passing was a much needed steadying influence in the midfield.
He did need to be a little more active defensively, especially after he dropped into a deeper role in the 77’. That said he was much better this match with his defensive positioning. Hopefully he can continue to use his time with S2 to improve the defensive side of his game.
Pineapple (Supporters’ Section)
Pineapple began the match timidly, almost like it was wrapped in a paper bag and stuffed on a cart somewhere. After an ineffective first 45 of support, the contents of the halftime show did wonders for Pineapple’s confidence, ultimately leading Pineapple to a standout performance in the supporters’ section. Pineapple was unbothered by the constant pelting of rain and exhibited enough energy to keep the fans cheering through the team conceding 2 goals at home. Pineapple masterfully lead a call and repeat chant, jumped through the pogo, held a 2-pole, and waved a flag.
The only thing that Pineapple struggled with was drumming, since Pineapple lacks arms, but Pineapple put in a great shift as a supporter. Pineapple’s hard work was rewarded by meeting Cristian Roldan and autographs from the very-confused-about-being-asked-to-sign-a-pineapple Ray Serrano and fellow “Notable Performer” Azriel Gonzalez. Overall, Pineapple had a great night under the lights at Cheney Stadium and and fans should be excited to see what Pineapple will bring next.
First Team call up power rankings
- Ray Saari
- Sam Rogers
- Felix Chenkam
- Nick Hinds
- Rodrigue Ele
S2’s next match is Saturday at 5 p.m. on ESPN+ or you can go to Cheney Stadium.