Look, Seattle Sounders 2 lost 5-3 to LA Galaxy II, but it was a much more heartening performance than that scoreline suggests. If any centerback in the Sounders system had started instead of Tony Alfaro, S2 would probably win the match 3-2, and if you add to that Francisco Narbon not having his worst performance since he has been with S2 they probably win 3-0.
The S2 attack looked as good as it has in a month or more. This was mostly due to a change in the middle of the attacking band. Jesse Daley came in to the middle and just kept things moving. For too long, first with Zach Mathers and then with David Olsen, S2 have had #10s who ruin the flow of the attack by slowing things down too much when they got the ball. Daley played as part of the attack instead of trying to run it, and the offense was much better for it. Hopefully, this trend continues in the future.
Unfortunately this improved attack couldn’t overcome the individual defensive failures on Sunday. Los Dos should have been up two in the first 10 minutes after Alfaro first committed an unnecessary foul in the box that the ref missed. Then, Alfaro stopped following Frank Lopez in the box when he had the ball, but luckily Efrain Alvarez missed what should have been an easy finish off a pass from Lopez.
Against all odds, S2 were actually the first to get on the board in the 14’ after Shandon Hopeau showed just how much he has improved this season. He made an excellent tackle at the halfway line and dribbled the ball all the way to the box. He cut inside, nicely beating a Los Dos defender. He got off a shot that was blocked, but the rebound found its way out to Ray Saari, who hit a turf burner from 30 yards out into the bottom corner to make it 1-0.
Los Dos evened the score in the 26’. Alfaro again took up a bizarre position while trying to guard Lopez in the box. This allowed Lopez to pick out any pass he wanted in the box and Geoffrey Acheampong easily finished. Just two minutes later the lead doubled when Sam Rogers put Narbon in a bad spot with a questionable pass from the back. Lopez picked Narbon’s pocket and than dribbled into the acres of space left by the split CBs and beat Sam Fowler 1-on-1 to make it 2-1.
Alfaro should have been sent off in the 34’ for a horrendous tackle on Alvarez that could have broken the 16-year-old’s leg. Spared being a man down, S2 were able to get the game to level just before half. Ulysse took the ball to the end line and sent in an accurate low cross that Jesse Daley was able to trap and hit with his left foot into the net.
S2 were a bit lucky to be even at half with all of the defensive mistakes, but the mistakes continued in to the second half, and Los Dos made them pay for them this time.
In the 49’ Alfaro somehow misjudged a long ball by 15 yards. As the ball flew over his head Alvarez ran past him. This put him free on goal and he was able to easily pass the ball past Fowler into the goal. In the 61’ Fowler was again beaten, this time by a free kick from the corner of the box to make the score 4-2. Thirty seconds after the free kick, Narbon attempted to hit a long pass but hit it off of a Los Dos player. The ricochet flew over the heads of both CBs and found Alvarez walking back from an offside position. He picked up the ball and again was in on goal. He beat Fowler again to make it 5-2.
S2 were able to pull one back in the 80’ when Daley cleverly took a quick free kick that put David Estrada in on goal. Estrada finished it to make the score 5-3.
Even though it was a loss, this match is a very good sign for S2. They finally found a solution to their offense looking less than the sum of its parts. As soon as they can get the CB pair back to being Rodrigue Ele and Sam Rogers, they should start getting results.