S2 Match Preview: Undefeated records on the line as S2 welcomes southern rivals

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MATCH PREVIEW - It’s been a nice week off for S2 after back-to-back wins where the team put the ball in the back of the net eight times, but the guys are back at Starfire Stadium this weekend to face Portland Timbers 2 (2-0-1, seven points) for what could be S2’s toughest challenge yet.

T2 has experienced similar success in its first three matches of the season, having defeated Real Monarchs SLC 3-1 in its inaugural match, defending USL champion Sacramento Republic FC last Thursday with a late goal from second-half substitute Steven Evans, then drawing against the Monarchs Wednesday night.. Portland now sits atop the Western Conference table over Arizona United and S2 (who have a game in hand), the only other undefeated teams in the conference.

“We expect a very fast-paced game,” said S2 Head Coach Ezra Hendrickson. “We know what they like to do and what they’re good at, but we also know their weakness, so we will be well-prepared.”

In S2’s last match, the backline only allowed four total shots from Whitecaps FC 2, with only one on target, while peppering the ‘Caps keeper with 20 shots, seven on target. T2 has looked particularly dangerous out wide with four of its five goals starting in wide spaces and finishing with strikes in area.

T2 forward Schillo Tshuma creatively found space for a cross to assist on the first goal in T2 history by Kharlton Belmar. Belmar is now tied with S2’s Darwin Jones and two other players for the league-lead in with three goals. However, the T2 attack needs to beat a tall S2 defense that could include Damion Lowe (6’3”) and Nick Miele (6’4”), who both put in solid performances last time out against WFC 2.

“Portland is very athletic up top and they like to get service into the box,” said Miele. “We are also working on how we can counter that style moving forward to put them on the back foot instead of us.”

Timbers 2 will be without Jamaican international defender Rennico Clarke as he serves a one-game suspension after receiving two yellow cards and being sent off in Wednesday’s match.

Seattle goalkeeper Charlie Lyon recorded his first-ever professional shutout in the match against WFC 2. Lyon will have to be on his game once again to stop the T2 attack, which put more than half their shots on target in its previous game.

The T2 defense features a familiar face in University of Washington defender Andy Thoma, former teammate of Sounders FC forward Darwin Jones and midfielder Cristian Roldan (one appearance each for S2). Thoma has been featured in the 18 for all of the Portland First Team games this season, and looks to be a promising fixture in the Timbers defense moving forward. He will likely get minutes this weekend as he has started both games for T2 this season.

“The fans are in for a very exciting end-to-end match this Saturday,” Hendrickson added.

This will be the first time this season the two Cascadia rivals have met, and both teams are looking to preserve their unblemished records. For tickets to Saturday’s Cascadia clash, click here.



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