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S2 opens second season tonight vs. Sacramento

VIDEO: Ezra Hendrickson previews Sounders 2 season

S2 head coach Ezra Hendrickson talks in advance of Friday opener against Sacramento.
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S2 head coach Ezra Hendrickson talks in advance of Friday opener against Sacramento.

Sounders 2 will open its USL season at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Starfire Sports Stadium against the Sacramento Republic.

S2 went 13-12-3 in its inaugural season before being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.

This season’s roster includes 2016 MLS SuperDraft picks such as Zach Mathers, Emir Alihodzic and Michael Nelson, along with homegrown midfielder Jordan Schweitzer. Three roster additions were announced Thursday: goalkeeper Matt Bersano from Penn State, midfielder Devon Fisher, who played last season with Timbers 2, and midfielder Mark O’Ojong of Cameroon.

"We’ve made some upgrades," coach Ezra Hendrickson said. "We’ve lost some key players, but I think we have a good group of younger players, possibly more talented players. We’re happy with the group of guys that we have. We’ll get some reinforcements from the first team, and we have some academy kids that are going to play a lot of minutes this year."

Here’s more from Hendrickson: 

On this season) We went through I think 44 players last year. We’re hoping that it’s not as many this year. We’re going to try to have a little bit more consistency, because I think with a little bit more consistency we can better develop players, and that’s what S2 is really all about: making sure that we’re developing guys and getting guys ready for first-team action.

On following the first team to a 4-3-3) If we’re playing a 4-4-2 and the first team is playing a 4-3-3, it’s kind of difficult. If a guy you have playing a right-mid in a 4-4-2, he now is called up to the first team and he has to play maybe a wide flank, it’s a different role, it’s a different beast all in itself. So I think it’s best for us if we’re mimicking whatever the first team is doing. That way it’s just an easier slide. At the end of the day, the goal of S2 players is to get to the first team. That helps them be better prepared. … For instance an Oalex Anderson – even though he signed with the first team – guys like that are going to get some S2 minutes. And if he’s playing with the first team and comes down to play games with us, we want to put him in a similar role it’s not such a switch back and forth with what he has to do tactically.

On players to watch) We have some academy kids this year that are going to get some playing time. We’ve signed three of our draftees, but a couple of them – (Zach) Mathers, Michael Nelson – is hurt right now. We have Emir (Alihodzic) also. I think these guys are going to show well. We have some new players in. It was a big turnover from last year. I think we only kept three or four signed guys from last year. There will be some new guys out there for the fans to see. We’ve brought in some new players and I think we’re going to continue to see from what we started last year and build on that. With S2 it’s not so much about winning. We do want to win because we feel winning is part of a player’s development. It helps them develop as far as psychologically, attitude: If you’re getting beat 5-0 every game it’s kind of discouraging. So we are going to try and win games, but the main focus is to develop these players. From last year we were able to get (Andy) Craven and Oalex Anderson signed with the first team. That’s the goal of S2: Every year, can we get one, maybe two players who makes the jump from S2 to the first team. And I think we have good, young players that we’ve brought in … that will be able to make that jump, if not this year, maybe next year.

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