Sounders FC 2 suffered a 1-0 defeat against Phoenix Rising FC at home on Wednesday night after surrendering a goal in the dying moments of the first half. S2 battled back to start the second period, but the team was forced to play the final 30 minutes down a man after midfielder Jordy Delem was sent off.
S2 dominated possession for a vast majority of the match, with midfielders Zach Mathers and Henry Wingo looking dangerous each time they got on the ball. The home side pumped numerous crosses into the box but, despite the consistent, high-quality service, the Rave Green were unable to find a breakthrough in the regular season home finale.
Zach Mathers Continues to Shine
The 2017 season has seen Mathers, who signed a First Team contract at the beginning of the year, absolutely dominate for S2 in USL competition. After starting the season as a box-to-box midfielder, Head Coach Ezra Hendrickson has deployed him as a No. 10 in recent months. That switch has paid dividends, as the Duke alum has bagged 10 goals and 4 assists. Although he didn’t score on Wednesday night, he was the heartbeat of S2’s attack, running the channels and whipping in quality crosses. If not for a finger-tip Phoenix Rising save in the 34th minute, he would’ve recorded his third free-kick goal of the season.
16-year-old Azriel Gonzalez Makes Promising Return
There was plenty of excitement when the club announced the signing of 16-year-old Sounders Academy phenom Azriel Gonzalez. But shortly after, he suffered an ankle injury in his first start as a professional. Coming on as a substitute in the 71st minute, the kid showed just why the club values him so highly. Gonzalez nearly grabbed his second pro assist five minutes after coming on with a clever run and intelligent cross, but Felix Chenkam couldn’t redirect his effort on target. In second-half stoppage time, he nearly opened his goalscoring account with a powerful, left-footed volley that narrowly missed the top corner.
Tyler Miller Comes Up Big
One of the central themes of this season has been the stellar play of third-year goalkeeper Tyler Miller. On Wednesday night, Miller came up with clutch saves to keep S2 in the match on several occasions. His first big save came in the 5th minute, sprawling to his right-hand side to palm away a powerful volley. After Delem was sent off, he gave the squad a fighting chance of equalizing when he denied Jason Johnson on a 1v1 breakaway in the 71st minute.