Thursday, September 24, 2015
Seattle Sounders FC 2 left it late to book its place in the 2015 USL Playoffs, as a victory in the final game of the regular season lifted it into the sixth and final berth ahead of Tulsa Roughnecks FC, but according to Coach Ezra Hendrickson the side has maintained its confidence as it prepares for Friday night’s conference quarterfinal with Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC.
“We’re a confident bunch,” Hendrickson said. “I think we’ve maintained that confidence all throughout the year. Even when things went bad we still found a way to stay upbeat because we have that belief in ourselves. Colorado [Springs] is ahead of us in the standings, we came in as the last seed, but we’re not looking at numbers right now. The only thing we’re looking at is going there and getting a victory.”
After being near the top of the Western Conference standings for much of the season, S2 slid late on as it took victories in just two of its final eight games, and lost the other six. One of those wins, however, was against the Switchbacks on August 19. S2 also earned a 1-1 draw in its visit to Sand Creek Stadium on July 18, which helped the side get a feel for what conditions will be like as it returns on Friday.
“We’ve played them there once, we noticed the altitude, and we were able to get a tie,” Hendrickson said. “I felt we played a pretty decent game, and we know what they’re all about. We’ve played them twice now. They’re a very organized team, and a difficult team to break down. I think their coach [Steve Trittschuh] has them playing very good team defense, so we’ve worked on some stuff this week, switching attack, moving the ball quickly, stuff like that to help combat that.”
One of the key figures in the 3-2 win against Colorado Springs on August 19, however, will be unavailable for the side, with Myron Samuel still out after undergoing surgery to heal a broken foot suffered in that contest. Samuel aside, Hendrickson will have almost a complete roster to choose from, with the only other notable absences forward Andy Craven and defender Giuliano Frano, who on Wednesday was called up to Canada’s Olympic Qualifying squad.
“We’re fortunate in that we don’t have too many injuries right now,” Hendrickson said. “We have a couple of guys who have the normal wear and tear, a couple of knocks, but nothing major beyond [Myron] Samuel and Craven, guys who have been out quite some time now. I think everyone else is fit and ready to go. We’re going to come out with a full squad on Friday night and we’re looking forward to good things.”
With the playoffs offering a fresh slate, Hendrickson believes his side is ready to get on a positive run of form and maybe spring some surprises, starting against the Switchbacks.“We feel we’re in a very good position to move on in the playoffs,” Hendrickson said. “It’s not going to be easy. They’re a very good team, and we’re not by any means taking them for granted. We’re going to go in there and play our game, and we’re confident that if we play the way we’re capable of playing, with the talent that we have on the field and coming off the bench, we’ll be successful.”