TUCSON, Ariz. — It was déjà vu for Seattle Sounders midfielder Handwalla Bwana, as he scored against the Portland Timbers in preseason for the second consecutive season.
In the 33rd minute on Wednesday, he headed home a deflected cross from Marlon Vargas to give the Sounders a 1-0 lead a year after he gave the Sounders a 2-1 advantage over their southern rivals in 2018.
“I didn’t expect it, I was like, ‘I’m not very good at headers,’ but I had to score.” said Bwana on Wednesday. “Will [Bruin] made a good run to draw the two center backs and [Zarek] Valentin followed him because he’s a big guy. I’m not expected to win those headers, but the ball came to me and I had to finish it.”
The Sounders rested their nominal starters and fell 2-1, despite a brilliant effort against a first-choice Timbers side. Bwana especially did well attacking down the left flank and taking defenders on and trying to wreak havoc on the back line.
“I think that’s my game,” he said. “As you can see in the new system that we’re playing, it’s really good for the wingers because we’re isolated 1-v-1, and that’s what I’m good at. I had to make the most of it.”
Bwana battled injuries last year during his rookie campaign, but also scored two crucial match-winning goals. He has excellent creative flair and can change games with his inventiveness on the ball. Now with a full year as a professional under his belt, he’s ready to take that next step.
“I learned about the level of play [last year],” he said. “The game is a lot quicker, guys are stronger and faster. But now I’m used to it, and I know what to expect.”