The Sounders kicked off their first competitive game of 2017 with a preseason match against the Portland Timbers.
The Desert Diamond friendly finished tied 1-1, with both teams finding the back of the net.
— Sounders Beat (@SoundersBeat) February 5, 2017
Timbers forward Fanendo Adi opened the scoring in the 17th minute with a header off a Diego Valeri free kick.
Seattle pulled level in the second half with Harry Shipp scoring on a penalty kick. Irvin Parra, who played most of 2016 with Sounders 2 of the USL, was fouled in the box and moments later, Shipp slotted home the equalizer in the 71st minute.
The Sounders finished the game with eight total shots, seven on goal and nine corner kicks. The Timbers had seven shots, five on goal and two corners.
Here’s what we learned:
The Deuce Is Loose
Sounders forward and former USMNT captain played for the first time since last August. Held to just 30 minutes of action before being subbed out, Dempsey played in the forward spot, just underneath newcomer Will Bruin.
“It felt great to be out there playing again,” Dempsey said. “A little bit of rust and trying to get up to the speed of play, but it was great to be out there and look forward to more games.”
While not a whole lot of action on the night, he did have some opportunities to link up with MLS Newcomer of the Year, Nicolas Lodeiro. Lodeiro was a big part of Seattle’s run to an MLS Cup title, and seemed to make everyone else better in attack. Should Dempsey be a consistent part of the Sounders early this season, getting on the same page as Lodeiro will be key.
That being said, Dempsey still has some hurdles to jump before taking part in a full regular season game.
“His recover is going as scheduled,” head coach Brian Schmetzer said in post-game interview. “We couldn’t give him anymore. The next game we’ll wrap him up a little more.”
Tyler See, Tyler Do
After starter Stefan Frei took a knock in USMNT training, the expectation from both general manager Garth Lagerway and Schmetzer was that
Sounders backup goalkeeper Tyler Miller performed admirably in goal, playing the full 90 minutes. While just allowing the one Portland score, Miller made five saves, keeping the Timbers at bay.
That, and he made a save would leave even Frei’s mouth hanging open.
— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) February 5, 2017
The original, alarming news that Frei would be out for a while might not be the worse thing, if Miller continues to play at this level. Starting Miller going forward into the regular season may allow Frei to get completely healthy before returning.
The Kids Are Alright
An often critical part for the Sounders in years past, the age range for Seattle has made a drastic change heading into 2017.
And it was on full display on Saturday night.
Of the 22 players who saw the field for the Sounders, 17 are 25 years-0ld or younger. What’s more, four of the players are 20 or younger.
The list includes recently signed homegrown products Seyi Adekoya and Henry Wingo, Sounders academy players Shandon Hopeau and Jake Morris, and S2 players Irvin Parra, Nouhou Tolo, Lorenzo Ramos and Zach Mathers.
Under the leadership of Garth Lagerway, this team is continuing to build from the talent pool within the organization as well as developing players in the region. With the right veteran and international pieces, this could spell success for a very long time.
Zak Is Back… Sort Of
While not making an official appearance in the game, Steve Zakuani was listed on the bench during warmups.
Zakuani, the Sounders former No. 1 pick who retired back in 2015, has been in camp training with the team. While Schemtzer has insisted its to allow Zakuani test himself and see if he could still play at the MLS lever, the Sounders haven’t officially ruled out a return.
Fomer US soccer wunderkid Freddy Adu started for Portland in the second half.
Adu played in 48 games from 2002 to 2009 with the US U-17 and U-20 teams, scoring 32 goals. At 14, he signed with DC United. The midfielder has fallen out of favor in recent years, having bounced around Asia, with his last stint coming with the Tampa Bay Rowdies.