Thursday, November 19, 2015
Seattle had a fantastic start, an extensive lull toward the end of the regular season, yet found just enough to garner a spot in the 2015 USL Playoffs in its first season. Overall, it was a successful campaign for S2. In addition to the postseason berth, Seattle had one of the best home records in the league and saw Andy Craven earn a fairly early move to the first team in Major League Soccer.
S2 showcased some robust fledgling talent, and the organization anticipates some first-team call-ups from the men who represented the USL side in 2015, along with a strong young group forming the core of the 2016 squad.
2015 USL Season in Review:
Place: 6th in the Western Conference
Goals For: 45
Goals Against: 42
2015 leaders: Pablo Rossi (8 goals), Andy Craven (5 assists), Charlie Lyon (80 saves, 4 shutouts)
Greatest moment of 2015: The three-game home series to open Seattle’s USL tenure was one of the strongest team story lines early in the season. S2 dominated in their first two games, opening with a 4-2 victory against defending USL champion Sacramento Republic FC and then posting a lopsided 4-0 win against Cascadia rival Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2. The big moment of this stretch came at the tail end of the three-match run against another local rival, the Portland Timbers 2. The winning streak looked to be coming to an end. T2’s Harrison Delbridge tallied in the first half and Seattle’s Pablo Rossi answered early in the second half, converting a penalty kick. It stayed 1-1 for much of the final 45 minutes and looked destined to end in a draw. But in the 88th minute, S2 created some late magic. Andy Craven beautifully flicked the ball over a pair of T2 defenders and Giuliano Frano rushed near the penalty spot and volleyed the ball into the net for the winner.
Lowest moment of 2015: Seattle’s six defeats in seven games during the final month and a half of the season nearly undid what had been a positive campaign. From Aug. 1 through Sept. 11, S2 went 1-6-1 and were outscored 13-5 during that stretch, with four road losses. In retrospect, if Seattle picked up just one more draw instead of one of the six losses, the team would have clinched a postseason berth before the regular-season finale against Austin.
What went right? S2’s dominance at Starfire Stadium made it one of the toughest locales for opposing teams all season. Seattle went 11-3-0 at home, outscoring its opponents 30-18. The 30 goals marked two-thirds of S2’s goal scoring this year, and the 11 home wins led the Western Conference and were second in the league to only USL champions the Rochester Rhinos who went 12-0-2 at Sahlen’s Stadium. As long as Seattle maintains any semblance of that home success from here on out, S2 will always put themselves in position for a postseason run.
What went wrong? For all the glory at home, Seattle was incredibly vulnerable on the road, posting a 2-9-3 record. That two-win total tied for the second-worst in the USL behind only Real Monarchs SLC’s 1-10-3 mark. For eight of the nine road defeats, S2’s defense allowed two or more goals. For eight of the nine road losses, Seattle’s offense was limited to one goal or less. That combination never bodes well no matter how you slice it. It goes without saying that S2 must improve on both sides of the ball on the road, especially if they cannot repeat the dominance at Starfire from this past season.
He said it: “Overall I thought it was a good season for us. We know there is a lot of improvement to be made, but it’s a process. It’s something that year after year we’re going to try to get better, as far as having a good, solid S2. Because that’s going to mean the academy is doing well, and also it means we have guys who are on the verge of first-team minutes. That bodes well for the organization as a whole.” – Ezra Hendrickson, Seattle Sounders FC 2 Head Coach