Photo courtesy Rio Grande Valley FC
Seattle Sounders FC 2 matched their total of nine wins a season ago in 2017, but the side's defensive struggles throughout the year meant the side fell off the pace early in its pursuit of a second trip to the USL Cup Playoffs. S2 showed promising signs, but too was unable to put together a strong defensive performance often enough to hold off its opponents, giving up goals too often.
Of the four teams to concede at least 60 goals in the USL regular season, only the New York Red Bulls II and their outstanding attack reached the postseason. While Zach Mathers continued to shine with another excellent season, the mid-season departure of Irvin Parra to Orange County left S2 with precious little in the way of secondary scoring to bridge what ended up becoming a 15-point gap to the playoff positions by the end of the regular season.
Record: 9-19-4, 31pts
Place: 12th in the Western Conference
Goals For: 42
Goals Against: 61
USL Cup Playoffs: Did not qualify
2017 leaders: Zach Mathers (11 goals, 4 assists), Ray Saari (4 assists), Tyler Miller (74 saves)
S2's brightest moments of the season came in the games that arguably mattered most to the club and its fans as it won five of its six outings against Cascadia rivals the Portland Timbers 2 and Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 during the regular season. Zach Mathers' continued strong play was also a boon for Head Coach Ezra Hendrickson, as he logged a team-leading 11 goals and four assists as he neared 50 USL appearances for his career, while defender Sam Rogers earned acclaim after signing his first professional contract out of the Sounders Academy, taking the No. 5 spot on the 2017 USL 20 Under 20.
While the attack was strong for Seattle Sounders FC 2, the other end of the park was problematic as Seattle conceded 61 goals, the third-most in USL over the regular season. Those goals tended to come in spurts, with Seattle conceding multiple goals on a regular basis, conceding four or more goals on four occasions, including its biggest loss of the season, a 6-0 loss to Reno 1868 FC on May 20th. Things could have been even worse if not for Tyler Miller in goal, who managed 74 saves in the season. Miller will be one to watch in 2018 after his selection by Los Angeles FC in the MLS Expansion Draft this offseason.
A low free kick was played into the penalty area, which allowed Brian Nana-Sinkam to run onto the ball and hit it sweetly on the half-volley, bouncing it in off the crossbar for his first professional goal.
After Seattle lost possession in its own half, Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC's Jack Jones made a quick run at goal and tried to pick out the right corner of the net with a low shot, only for Tyler Miller to get down quickly to parry the initial shot before smothering the rebound to keep Seattle ahead.