A hungry Seattle Sounders 2 (S2) side hit the pitch Sunday night looking for their first win of the season against an SAFC squad that, while comprised of its fair share of experienced players, had yet to play in a regular season game together. In what was to be a storybook start for SAFC, the boys in white registered a dominant 3-0 road win, coasting to victory via the fire power of forward Jason Johnson and the cohesion of a seemingly impenetrable defense.
The action came early in the first half when in the 3rd minute Bobby Moseley made quick work of the Seattle defense, cutting through their left side and finding Johnson. Johnson slid inside S2 midfielder Oneil Fisher and sent the ball past goalie Tyler Miller in one fluid motion, providing a brilliant beginning to the first game in franchise history.
The SAFC defense was noticeably patient coming off the quick goal and handled an aggressive S2 offense who was desperate to score. Defender Greg Cochrane made some outstanding plays, including a nice denial of forward Victor Mansaray. Not long after, S2 defender Tony Alfaro missed a tackle, sending the ball sharply in the direction of the Seattle goal when Johnson picked it up midfield in stride, maintained composure, and blasted it past Miller for his second goal of the game. SAFC 2-0, 9th minute.
The rest of the half SAFC put on a clinic in game management. The club looked poised, comfortable, and connected. Being up 2-0, coach Darren Powell was content to employ a counter attack strategy, looking to capitalize of Seattle miscues. Through all of this the SAFC defense remained patiently stingy, and goalie Josh Ford proved to be too much for Seattle strikers, shutting down any hopes they had of getting on the board before the end of the half.
SAFC returned to the field after the half and quickly found their rhythm on defense, continuing to take the air out of the ball and look for quick scoring opportunities. Forward Shawn Chin and midfielder Danny Garcia provided a spark off the bench, while defenders Stephen McCarthy and Sam McBride continued to deny Seattle of any offensive production.
Veteran midfielder Rafael Castillo began to impose his will on the hapless S2 side as the second half wore on, culminating in a thundering shot on goal in the 78th minute that smashed into the goalie Miller. The ball, unable to be controlled by Miller, bounced into the range of the dangerous Fejiro Okeiomah who quickly found the net before any of the S2 defenders had a chance to compose themselves, giving SAFC its insurmountable 3-0 lead.
The sole blemish on this brilliant franchise debut came in the 90th minute when defender Milton Palacios came up with a substantial limp and had to come off the field.
Swope Park Rangers (2-0-0) will visit Toyota Field next Saturday to take on SAFC (1-0-0) in its highly anticipated home opener. Judging by the performance they put on Sunday night, our club will be ready and willing to meet the challenge presented by SPR, a team many perceive to be one of the best in the USL.