TUKWILA, Wash. – Seattle Sounders FC 2 held their final training day of 2016 on Tuesday after completing their second season in the United Soccer League. Now, head coach Ezra Hendrickson and his staff are faced with tough conversations as they discuss who has the potential to stick around next season and who has what it takes to make the jump to the first team.
“Like any team, it won’t stay the same from year to year,” Hendrickson said. “Especially with a team like this where we’re trying to get it right, trying to find the right set of guys who we think has the potential to go to the first team.”
With a high rate of turnover coming into the 2016 season, Hendrickson is looking avoid a similar situation heading into 2017. The S2 head coach has also stressed the importance on developing players who can slot easily into the first team's system. In 2016, S2 also saw a larger integration of academy players this year as opposed to their first year. Closing the gap between the first team and the academy is another point of emphasis for Hendrickson and his staff heading into the new year.
“The game is a little faster, you have to think a little faster," said Hendrickson. "We’re looking for guys who can see that third pass, that third run.”
The offseason for a development-based team like S2 is jarring. There will always a be a large rate of turnover, and equal difficulty adjusting to a new roster at the beginning of next season. Despite the challenges, it is an exciting time for a handful of players who will have the opportunity to train with the first team throughout the remainder of the year. Hendrickson was hesitant to name names, but believes he has found such talent within the S2 ranks this season that can ultimately make the jump to the Sounders.
“There’s definitely some guys we’re going to keep,” he said. “Guys who we see as being the next wave of Sounders.”