USL

Seattle Sounders FC 2 looking to bounce back from Week 1 loss in rivalry match with Portland Timbers 2

Seattle Sounders FC 2 returns to Starfire stadium on Sunday, April 2 (2 p.m. PT | TICKETS), for the second match of the 2017 USL campaign. With so many new faces on the roster, this Pacific Northwest derby will be the first for many of the players. And since the goal of S2 is to develop players for the first team, these rivalry matches provide the coaching staff opportunities to evaluate their young prospects in high-pressure situations.


In a tale of two halves last week, S2 dropped its home opener 2-1 against a Sacramento Republic side littered with veterans. Although the young Sounders conceded a pair of goals in the second half to surrender the lead, the first 45 minutes offered plenty of examples of the exciting, young talent on the roster.


A trio of Sounders Academy products — midfielder Lorenzo Ramos, forward David Olsen and winger Shandon Hopeau — carved out a couple of clear-cut chances in the first half with incisive passing and clever movement. Hopeau, in particular, posed a problem for the Republic back line with his incessant defensive pressing and on-ball trickery.



Sunday’s match may also see the return of two fan favorites from last year — defender Nouhou Tolo and midfielder Zach Mathers, who each signed with the first team before the start of the 2017 MLS season — which will bring some veteran savvy to a hyper-talented, albeit young, S2 side.


Here are three storylines to watch on Sunday:


Turning to Youth


The matchup between S2 and T2 is a tilt between the two best USL sides when it comes to player development, according to TopDrawerSoccer.com. Although they took different different paths to constructing their respective rosters — S2 relies more on the Academy pipeline — both sides have an excellent track record of developing first-team talent.


Some of the youngest players on the Sounders’ squad have the most experience against Timbers. Hopeau and center back Sam Rogers led to the U-18s to a 2-0 win over Timbers Academy last October, with Hopeau tallying both goals and Rogers marshaling the defense.


Sounders Academy Ties


While there will be plenty of Sounders Academy alums on the roster for S2, there will be some familiar faces from the program on T2’s team sheet as well. Defender Kyle Bjornethun, a former Academy teammate of Seyi Adekoya, was selected by the Sounders with the final pick of the 2017 MLS SuperDraft. Bjornethun linked up with T2 after he was released by the Sounders, and the former Seattle University standout will likely match up against Olsen, his former Redhawk and Academy teammate.


Sunday’s match will also see the return of T2’s acting head coach Shannon Murray, who as recently as 2016 was coaching the Sounders Academy U-16 side. Rogers, one of Murray’s former charges, impressed in his professional debut versus Sacramento Republic.



Coach’s Take


“We’re looking forward to the game this weekend and doing the necessary preparations for that game,” said Seattle Sounders FC 2 head coach Ezra Hendrickson. “Playing rivalry matches is all a part of their overall development. These derby matches are good for the kids. Last weekend, we started seven guys who were playing their first professional start, so that inexperience is still there, and and it’s an improvement we have to make in terms of getting young guys minutes. But when it’s a derby match it doesn’t matter if it’s your first match, if it’s your second match or if it’s your 90th match, that emotion is always there. So we have to find a way to make it less about emotion, and focus on the tactical side so we can execute our game plan.” 

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