(U23 release) The Sounders U23 team hit a tough patch in the 2017 PDL schedule losing to Calgary Foothills by a goal twice this past weekend in Calgary. These losses followed a loss at the Portland Timbers U23 last week putting the playoffs in jeopardy for the Sounders U23 side. The Sounders U23 return home to play TSS on Saturday, July 1st in what will be a valuable game to keep in the hunt for the post season. (Cover photo by Steve Rogers)
|Calgary Foothills FC||10||7||1||2||23||16||8||8|
|Portland Timbers U23||10||5||1||4||19||17||9||8|
|Sounders FC U23||10||4||5||1||13||12||12||0|
|Lane United FC||10||2||4||4||10||13||18||-5|
|Victoria Highlanders FC||7||2||5||0||6||8||11||-3|
|TSS FC Rovers||11||2||6||3||6||14||22||-8|
The Western Conference sends 4 teams to the Western Conference finals from three divisions. The NW Division has won the Western Conference Finals for the past 7 years running with Calgary winning in 2016 and the Sounders U23 winning in 2015. The top point getter in all three conferences automatically goes to the post season. The conference that supplies the top point getter in the West has its 2nd and 3rd place teams play off for another spot in the Western Conference finals. The 1st and 2nd place finishers in the other two divisions in the West then play off for the final two spots. So, the Sounders U23 are still in a fight for post season play with 4 games left in the regular season, currently in third place behind Calgary Foothills at 7-1-2 at 23 points and the Portland Timbers U23’s at 5-1-4 and 19 points. In the other two Western Conference divisions, Fresno Fuego leads at 8-2-0 with 24 points, and FC Tucson leads at 6-2-1 with 19 points.
On Friday, June 23rd, the Sounders U23 team flew to Calgary and played the same day at 7pm. With a miscommunication early, Dom Russo slotted home a goal to give Calgary the lead. Miguel Berry then responded for the Sounders U23 team to tie the game up on some good work from Adam Jones. With about 20 minutes to play in the game, things got very interesting. Calgary Foothills was awarded a free kick from the 40-yard line that left most of the Sounders U23 faithful scratching their heads. The ball was whipped into the box and young sub, William Akio, headed it past Cam Frost to go up 2-1. The Sounders U23 then started to attack the Calgary goal and were awarded a free kick on a Calgary foul. A Calgary player then kicked the ball away as Ian Antley attempted to set the ball for the free kick. Another Calgary player then grabbed the ball, stalling the game. Antley pushed the player to get the ball back and was issued a yellow card, his second. Antley was given a red card resulting in missing the Sunday game. With 2 minutes remaining in extra time, Sam Jones took a free kick on the top of the box that was saved by Dylan Powley. The final score was 2-1 Calgary.
On Sunday, June 25th, after losing Antley to the double yellow along with Tyler John and Macca King to injury, the depleted Sounders U23 team faced the Calgary team again. An early mistake led to another quality goal from Dom Russo and Calgary were in the driver’s seat 1-0. Eddie Na had some great runs on the day, and he narrowly missed tying the game after getting behind the Foothills defense. As the game progressed, it became more and more physical and with 20 minutes remaining in the match Russo went into a tackle on Conner Antley resulting in Antley’s exit from the game with an injury that could have been much worse. Depleted by injury and circumstance, goalkeeper Cam Frost was forced into action at the striker position. The Sounders U23 attacked the goal over and over but to no avail. The top team in the division showed their prowess again with a 1-0 win.
“We respect Tommy Wheeldon and Calgary and they have had our number for a run here,” said Sounders U23 head coach Darren Sawatzky, “We play a physical brand this year based on our personnel but there have been some tackles this season with career ending implications. Hard play is one thing, but watching players go after others is tough. No excuses from us, we will prepare this week for a very good TSS Rovers team and work to stay in contention for post season play.”
The Sounders U23 return to Sunset Stadium to face TSS Rovers on Saturday, July 1st at 7:30pm. With much to play for, this game should be an exciting event for the fans.
Sounders U23 tickets and information can be found at http://www.soundersu23.com.