Tacoma, WA – The Sounders FC U-23 picked up four points in their opening weekend of the PDL season. The Sounders played Friday and Saturday night in Canada. With most of the team arriving in the Puget Sound just a few days prior to the trip, the Sounders U-23 quickly organized themselves for a win and a tie on their travels.
Goal keeper, Doug Herrick snatches the ball vs. Victoria (photo by Chris Coulter, SoundersPhotos.com)
The first match of the season was destined to be difficult for the Sounders U-23’s since players arrived from their various colleges in time for the weekend of games, but not much in the way of team training. Their first opponent, however, the Vancouver Whitecaps Residency have been living and practicing in Vancouver for months.
“Our players did a great job of acclimating quickly after arriving from college. With each day, it will be good to see them connect and also compete for playing time,” Sounders U-23 Head Coach, Darren Sawatzky said.
Despite the hurdles, the Sounders U-23 were able to defeat Vancouver 2-1 with goals by Darwin Jones and Fernando Monge. Also playing a huge role in the victory was goal keeper, Doug Herrick.
Darwin Jones challenges the Highlanders defense (photo by Chris Coulter, SoundersPhotos.com)
Vancouver also had at their disposal, three players who are signed with their MLS club, looking to get game-time before rejoining the Whitecaps’ first team.
“Vancouver has a good team and they looked to play at their place. The three professional players were very effective for them and caused us problems,” Darren Sawatzky said.
The very next day, the U-23’s took the ferry to Victoria BC. Their opponent, the Victoria Highlanders are large team in stature that offered a physical battle for the Sounders. After trailing 1-0 at halftime, Fernando Monge scored an early 2nd half goal to equalize.
The Sounders U-23 were able to hold on despite tired legs to secure a road point. Again, Doug Herrick, the MLS draftee was exceptional in the net, recording nine saves on the night.
“Obviously, it is good to get points on the road, but we have a lot of work to do to get to the level we want to play at,” Sawatzky said. “The players bought into a system and were effective in the execution. It will be fun to watch them as we start to take the reins off.”
Next up for the Sounders FC U-23 is a local rivalry with the defending PDL Champions, the Kitsap Pumas. The match is Saturday night, May 19 at Bremerton High School.
The following Friday, the Sounders will host their inaugural home match as a member of the PDL. That game kicks off on May 25 vs. Victoria at 7pm from Franklin Pierce High School. Tickets are available on SoundersU23.com for just $10.