The Seattle Sounders’ second friendly of the preseason was eerily like the first.
The Sounders lost both games 2-1 — in this case to the Portland Timbers. Once again, all goals came in the second half. In both games, it was Darwin Jones who recorded the lone Seattle goal, while the opposition won behind a pair of goals by the same player. Also for the second consecutive match, coach Sigi Schmid went with one unit in the first half, and an entire new 11 in the second.
“We just wanted to mix and match the team a little bit,” Schmid said. “… I was not displeased. Obviously, I’m displeased with the two goals that we took in the second half. I think we really didn’t give much up in the second half with the exception of those chances. But that’s the way it goes sometimes.”
Both of those goals came with Panama international Roberto Chen at the centerback position. However, Schmid wasn’t willing to immediately assign blame.
“I’ve got to see the videotape on both of the goals to see exactly what happened there,” Schmid said. “I think (Jack) McInerney got behind them on the first one, and I don’t know how the guy came in free off the flank on the second one. So we’ll take a look at that and then we’ll make a better evaluation.”
However, after two Desert Friendlies, a few Sounders are beginning to form impressions.
Schmid admits Jones is fitter this season, and looking far more comfortable on the wing.
Cristian Roldan put out another solid performance in his start at the defensive midfield position long held — and probably still held — by veteran Osvaldo Alonso.
Frei remains unchallenged as the starter in goal, but apparently No. 2 Tyler Miller could get a challenge from Charlie Lyon, who sat out aganst the Timbers.
Midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz — who wasn’t even on the team last preseason — has quickly earned enough respect that he wore the captain’s armband in the second half Saturday.
The Saturday starters were Frei; defenders Oniel Fisher, Damion Lowe, Chad Marshall and Dylan Remick; midfielders Roldan, Erik Friberg and Nathan Sturgis; and forwards Obafemi Martins, Nelson Valdez and Aaron Kovar.
In the second half, Schmid went with Miller; defenders Tyrone Mears, Chen, Zach Scott and Joevin Jones; midfielders Alonso, Zach Mathers and Ivanschitz; and forwards Myron Samuel, Victor Mansaray and Darwin Jones.
The Timbers, meanwhile, opened the second half with only four changes. And it was against that unit, that the Sounders jumped ahead. In the 53rd minute, Darwin Jones fired from the left side of the penalty area. His shot hit low against the near post and went into the goal.
Around the 62nd minute, Portland subbed out all of its original starters. And this second unit quickly equalized, with Jack McInerney taking a long pass in the box and one-touching it past Miller.
McInerney struck again in the 84th minute, running onto a pass in front of the goal.
Announced attendance was 3,112, with plenty of singing, chanting Sounders and Timbers fans in the stadium.
“There’s always good spirt and there’s always good atmosphere whenever we play each other, and I thought the game was a good game for the fans,” Schmid said. “I thought it was exciting. Some of our young kids who came on in the second half with their speed and going forward, I thought they created a good atmosphere as well.”
The Sounders will take Sunday off before returning to training Monday. They are expected to be joined for the first time by a new homegrown forward, Jordan Morris, who arrived in Tucson on Saturday after duty with the U.S. national team.
Seattle opened the Desert Friendlies last week against Vancouver and will conclude them at 6 p.m. Tuesday against Mexico’s Celaya FC.