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Sounders 2 end six-game losing streak

Las Vegas was forced to play with nine men for more than a half, but S2 were the better side before and after the cards.

S2 Celebrate the second minute goal from Antonee Burke-Gilroy
Kayla Mehring/Sounder at Heart

TACOMA — Seattle Sounders 2 have had a rough go of it for the last two, three, probably four months, but there have been signs of the young developmental side figuring things out the last two weeks. Those signs came to fruition against Las Vegas Lights FC — a side S2 lost to 4-1 a month and a half ago — with a 3-0 win at Cheney Stadium on Thursday as S2 out-paced and out-shot Vegas. S2 got goals from Antonee Burke-Gilroy, David Estrada and Lamar Neagle and played more than a half up two men, but were in control throughout.

Things started out perfectly as a bit of pressure in the 2nd minute saw Burke-Gilroy tackle the ball off of a Vegas player and drive forward. He beat several players on the dribble on his way to the box where he moved the ball onto his left foot and lifted a shot over an attempted block. The shot curled over goalkeeper Ricardo Ferriño into the net to make it 1-0.

S2’s aggressive press and quick attack were just too much for Vegas, and with a bit better decision making in the final third S2 could have been up 3-0 in the opening 15 minutes. Despite the attacks sputtering out a bit S2 kept at it and got their next real shot at goal at 21’ when Rodrigue Ele was elbowed in the head in the box and the ref pointed to the spot. Lamar Neagle stepped up to take the spot kick but his effort wasn’t good enough and Ferriño stopped it with an easy dive to his right.

Again S2 were not deterred, and they continued to be the more aggressive and better side for the remainder of the first half. Unfortunately, like in Phoenix last week, their final ball and finishing continued to be a bit deficient and S2 headed in to half with just the 1-0 lead.

Just before the halftime whistle though Las Vegas saw fit to give S2 a considerable amount of help going into the second half when they had two players sent off in stoppage time. First Marcelo Alatorre saw a second yellow for a late tackle and then Carlos Alvarez saw a straight red for an elbow to Jesse Daley’s face that he lined up for a good two steps.

With the two-man advantage, S2 came out of the locker room flying. Again, they could have scored two or three in the opening 15 minutes and, while the final pass was there this time, the ball didn’t quite find its way into the back of the net. That changed at 68’ when Ferriño’s wild play at keeper finally failed him as he brought down Neagle in the box. This time Estrada grabbed the ball and made no mistake from the spot to make it 2-0.

Just four minutes later, Estrada and Neagle again combined to add to the lead, as Estrada played a clever chip over the Vegas backline. A run from Azriel Gonzalez froze a couple Vegas defenders as they attempted to hold Gonzalez offside (Gonzalez was offside and the play probably should have been called back) and Neagle made a diagonal run into the space behind Gonzalez’s run and chested the ball down to his feet. From there it was an easy finish for the First Team player to make it 3-0.

Vegas came close to getting a bit of a fluke goal in the 84’ but ultimately Neagle’s was the game’s last goal. It was an even more impressive result than the scoreline indicates. Perhaps the most important takeaway from the game is that Coach Hutchinson has finally gotten the midfielders to implement an effective press. They have had the personnel for it all season but the coordination and aggression just haven’t been there. If S2 can continue to play like this, with this much swagger, they are going to start getting results.