Late in Sounders FC’s friendly with Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday, three of the club’s youngest players connected in the build-up to Seattle’s third goal in a 3-3 draw with the Premier League club.
The Aaron-Kovar-to-Sean-Okoli-to-Tristan-Bowen set up that led to Seattle’s go-ahead goal gave Head Coach Sigi Schmid a look at what some of his lesser-used players can contribute when given the opportunity. For Bowen, a five-year MLS veteran who is just 23 years old, it was just his second chance this season to strut his stuff, and he put his speed on display in netting the 79th minute goal.
“It was an amazing feeling, first and foremost, to get an opportunity to show what I can do and work hard for my teammates and the supporters,” Bowen said. “It was amazing to get on the field and contribute to the team and bring some joy to Seattle.”
Bowen was impressive in the early parts of training camp, but a series of niggling injuries limited what he was able to do in training and Schmid needed to see more before including him in a deep rotation of wide midfielders. To see playing time, he would need to unseat those who were seeing time in wide roles – Marco Pappa, Lamar Neagle, Brad Evans, and occasionally Kenny Cooper and Chad Barrett.
Bowen was able to earn a spot on the field on July 5 in a 1-0 loss to Vancouver Whitecaps FC and his speed changed Seattle’s offensive dynamics. He exploded up the wings against defenders tired out by a full match of chasing Seattle’s dangerous attacking players and got himself into threatening positions. While it didn’t result in any scoring at BC Place, the threat Bowen can cause to defenses was evident on Saturday against Spurs.
“I’ve faced some hurdles throughout the season and with the team being so deep, it’s been tough for me, personally,” Bowen said. “I just need to continue working hard and making sure that I do the things that got me to this point so when the coach does call on me, that I’m ready and I’m able to contribute.”
On the goal, which put Seattle up 3-2, Kovar led Okoli on a run up the left side of the field and Okoli skipped a cross through the box to Bowen for a tap-in. It was a well-placed ball by Okoli, just far enough from goal to keep former U.S. National Team goalkeeper Brad Friedel from springing off his line to cover it. Meanwhile, Bowen darted into position to take the pass while also holding off an approaching defender to get the tap-in on one of his first touches of the match.
Now with the LA Galaxy next up on the schedule – a club for which Bowen got the start to his professional career in 2009 – Schmid has another offensive weapon that isn’t only booming with talent, but confidence, as well, after scoring against one of the top clubs in England.
“Scoring a goal against Tottenham … that’s awesome by itself. I’m definitely excited for what’s coming,” Bowen said. “I think I’ll get a few more opportunities after scoring that goal. I’ll just continue working hard and supporting my teammates and showing the coaches that I can contribute to the team.”