By Chris Trujillo For the Weekly Herald
EDMONDS — Alex Silva always has time for the fans. Win or lose, the North Sound SeaWolves coach will shake hands and sign autographs. As far as classy coaches go, Silva ranks near the top.
But every now and again his post-game ritual can be difficult to face, especially after a disappointing performance from his team on its own field and in front of nearly 300 fans – a chunk of whom were rooting for the visiting Sounders U23 FC.
For the second time in three weeks, the SeaWolves fell hard to the Sounders U23 FC, losing 5-0 June 29 in a Premier Development League match at Edmonds Stadium. North Sound finished its home schedule 3-5 for the season.
“We made it too easy for them,” Silva said. “They’re (Sounders U23) a solid team. Every ball in the air they won. They made it very hard on us when we got the ball. Those are players you’ll see at the pro level and for us, the energy just wasn’t there.”
The SeaWolves suffered a 3-0 loss to the Sounders U23 on the road June 10. Since then and through June 28, the SeaWolves had lost five of their last six games and were outscored 20-6.
“We have had problems on defense and we continue to give up goals on crossings,” Silva said. “I don’t know what to do. We’ve talked about it so much, but we just can’t stop it.”
The Sounders set a disastrous tone early when midfielder Jamael Cox sent a near-perfect crossing pass to Sean Morris, who blew a header past North Sound goal keeper Claudio Lazar in just the third minute.
If there was a bright spot for the SeaWolves, it had to be goalkeeper Lazar and the handful of fantastic saves he secured.
The SeaWolves could have easily given up at least two more goals if not for the Lazar’s exciting stops. Nearing the 30th minute, and with the Sounders setting camp deep in the SeaWolves’ zone, Lazar was able to turn away a blazing shot by Anthony Arena from less than 10 yards out. But the charge wasn’t over. The shot ricocheted to an unguarded Sean Okoli, who was able to fire three shots from point-blank range. The first two shots bounced right back to Okoli. Remarkably Lazar blocked all three of them, two of which he blocked after he fell to the ground. He finally was able to wrap up the third shot.
“Those were amazing saves,” Silva said. “He’s a fantastic keeper who makes phenomenal saves like that. The goals weren’t his fault. That was a team issue.”
Lazar couldn’t keep bailing out his struggling defense or stop all 10 of the Sounders’ shots. In the 33rd minute, Okoli stole the ball from North Sound’s Renato Bandeira in the SeaWolves’ zone and went unchallenged for 10 yards before blowing a shot past Lazar to the far post to give the Sounders a 2-0 lead.
“Each time we got the ball, they squeezed in on us,” Silva said. “We weren’t doing that and let them be creative. We made it too easy for them.”
The soon-to-be blowout took shape six minutes into the second half. A tripping penalty in the goalie box allowed midfielder Aodhan Quinn to score on a penalty kick. The Sounders, who controlled the ball and field possession for the majority of the next 31 minutes, scored goals in the 84th and 85th minutes. Sounders’ Darwin Jones, from the left flank 10 yards out, spun his defender around with a slick crossover move and fired a high shot past Lazar. One minute later, Esteban Potenciano squeezed through the SeaWolves’ vulnerable last line-of-defense and beat a charging Lazar to give the Sounders a 5-0 lead.
The SeaWolves were not only baffled defensively, but also were out of tune on offense. They managed just two legitimate scoring opportunities, both from forward star Abdul Aman. The SeaWolves, who suffered their fourth shutout of the season, had a chance to score when Aman broke free and went one-on-one with Sounders’ keeper Doug Herrick. But his shot sailed wide. His second opportunity came in the second half when he fired a low liner which was handled by Herrick.
In all, the Sounders outshot the SeaWolves 10-2, six of which came in the second half.