In their first scrimmage of 2018, the Seattle Sounders defeated Club Tijuana's U-20 side 3-1 at the Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center on Sunday morning, culminating a week of training in Southern California.
The defending Western Conference champions didn't miss a beat with Homegrown Player Handwalla Bwana scoring in the 2nd minute before setting up Clint Dempsey just before halftime for the game's second goal.
Head Coach Brian Schmetzer made wholesale changes to the lineup in the second half and veteran midfielders Nicolás Lodeiro and Víctor Rodríguez made their presence felt almost immediately. After laying off a pass to Lodeiro at the top of the 18-yard box in the 49th minute, Rodríguez continued his run into the box, collected a perfectly-weighted pass from Lodeiro and finished to the far post for a 3-0 lead early in the second half.
Tijuana would score their lone goal in the 85th minute.
The rookie Homegrown Player out of the University of Washington kicked off his professional career in style heading home a cross from trialist Jordan McCrary just minutes into the match. Playing on the left wing, Bwana added an assist to his Sounders debut when he sent a low left-footed cross to Dempsey, who casually slotted it home in the 42nd minute.
Said Bwana after his debut: "It was fun. You can tell that it's completely different from college and it kind of suits my style because it's a lot of short passes, a lot of combination and [it's fun] being able to play with these massive guys that are just amazing to play with."
Víctor and Nico duo
The second half was largely dominated by Lodeiro and Rodríguez with the former providing an impressive assist to Rodríguez. Rodríguez had several scoring opportunities, hitting the crossbar in the 71st minute before nearly scoring again in the match's closing moments.
Just like big bro
2018 MLS SuperDraft selection and Seattle University product Alex Roldan played an active 45 minutes in his first professional match. The younger brother of Cristian Roldan started the second half as a defensive midfielder before moving up to the right wing, and like the elder Roldan, displayed an engine and eagerness to contribute all over the pitch.
Contributions from former Toronto FC II player
Former Top 10 draft pick from the University of North Carolina and Toronto FC II player, trialist Jordan McCrary played the first half at the right back position and provided the assist on Bwana's 2nd minute goal.
After a week that primarily focused on fitness, it was nice to see the guys play in a full 11-v-11 match. Head Coach Brian Schmetzer spoke about the team's first week of preseason as the club prepares for Leg 1 of the CONCACAF Champions League on Feb. 22 in El Salvador.
"They worked hard. They put it in," said Schmetzer. "I thought that the exercise was exactly what we needed. They had a hard week of training, their legs were a little heavy but they were still able to persevere and find some moments of quality."