At first glance the Sounders FC 2 roster appears rather thin, with only 16 players officially under contract with the USL side. But as a conduit between the First Team and the Academy, S2 can draw from both player pools to round out the roster. This will afford Head Coach Ezra Hendrickson with more most and roster flexibility to draw upon than at any point in S2's three-year existence.
Throughout the first half of the season, S2’s roster selection was often times restricted by the needs of the First Team and the Academy. But with the First Team’s run in the U.S. Open Cup ending with a loss to San Jose, and the U-16s and U-18s finishing up their USSDA playoff runs, Hendrickson now has a plethora of players to call upon as the USL side vies for its second post-season appearance in club history.
“The main thing for us is getting the core group of guys back on the field together and then just adding to that,” said Hendrickson. “We were able to sustain some momentum while those guys were absent which is very good good for us -- it shows the depth we have throughout the organization.”
Now that the USOC run has ended, as well as the First Team adding new signings and key players returning from injury, S2 can rely upon a larger group of players. This means that young prospects on the First Team -- like Seyi Adekoya, Henry Wingo and Zach Mathers -- will likely see more USL action in the final third of the season.
Another key contributor to S2’s burgeoning depth chart is the gradual integration of Sounders Academy standouts, who will hopefully follow in the footsteps of youth team alums Shandon Hopeau and Sam Rogers.
Since the 2017-18 USSDA season doesn’t begin until September, the next few months should provide ample opportunities for prospects from the U-14s, U-16s and U-18s, like center back Khai Brisco (16), forward Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez (15) and Paul Rothrock (18), to earn professional minutes while still in the youth ranks.
“The Academy season ending gives us the opportunity to look at some new guys, as we have some new players coming up from the youth teams,” said Hendrickson. “Both the U-16s and U-18s had very good seasons this year, so we’re looking for some of those players to move into the fold.”
The return of S2’s core group of players will enable Hendrickson to slot in a few youth team players alongside established professionals, which will help to accelerate their individual development.
“The opportunities at this club for young players to train with the first team, and to play for S2, gives them the opportunity to play with men everyday and get a glimpse of what it’s like if they can make it to the next level,” said Sounders FC VP of Soccer & Sporting Director Chris Henderson. “I think anytime you have teenagers training with men and playing with men, it’s going to help them develop.”
A spate of recent signings to S2, as well as a few potential signings from the U-18s, should expand the core group of players that Hendrickson can rely upon.
Guy Edoa, 20, who recently joined from Rainbow FC in Cameroon, immediately bolsters the Rave Green attack. Additionally, the signing of Azriel Gonzalez, 16, from the Academy provides Hendrickson with a player that can contribute a variety of attacking positions. Hendrickson now has the flexibility to tinker with his lineups to find a successful formula.
With an expanded pool of players to rely upon, he has the resources necessary to guide S2 back to the playoffs.