Steelheads stand up to Timbers U23 in Salem

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SALEM, OR— The Snohomish County FC Steelheads (2-1-3) lost their first match of 2019 on Saturday night May 11  2-1 to the Portland Timbers U23 (3-0-0) at Capital FC Soccer Complex in Salem Oregon. A surging second half from the Fish boosted the club’s morale and nearly resulted in a famous result against a USL Two opponent.

MORE: Video and photos from the trip to Salem

261 miles one way to Salem

The Steelheads players spent much of the day in various cars getting down to Salem. 261 miles and about 4 and a half hours later the guys arrived to near 90-degree heat. In warm-ups there was a collision which resulted in starting forward Kyle Aure hurting his arm and needing to have it checked at a local hospital. (Update: Kyle’s elbow is broken and he will miss the rest of the Steelheads season.) The loss of Aure was matched by the earlier news that starting central defender Logen Flem was also nursing an injury.

Slow start

Two starters down and facing a USL Two club with talent from all over the USA, the Western Washington Premier League (WWPL) Steelheads looked a bit lost in the early-going. Martin Nogh, just in from Virginia Commonwealth University, put the Timbers U23’s up 1-0 in the 4th minute of play.

The Steelheads faced constant pressure but the defensive system of Head Coach Dagi Kesim was working. Then just before halftime U23 forward Timur Zhividze made it 2-0 and things looked bleak for SnoCo FC.

Surging Second Half

cropped-snohomish-county-fc-steelheads-primary-800.pngWhat the Fish needed was a confidence booster in the form of a goal. They got it right away in the second half when a Cade Cooke throw-in was met in the box and flicked on by Andrew Escalante. Fabian Panduro got the last touch as both attacked the ball and his goal made it 2-1 in the 47th minute.

Snohomish stood up to the Timbers the rest of the way. Another throw-in from Cooke was put in the goal by Devin Shull. The lead official pointed to the center circle but then acknowledged the linesman’s flag. The signal was offside and the goal was waived off.

Later the match elevated to a fine back and forth affair. The Fish were holding their own and even pressing the Timbers. Fabian Panduro hit the crossbar with an effort. Then Panduro had a legitimate claim for a penalty kick foul when he was hauled own in the Portland box. The play momentarily stopped, both sides and even Timbers Head Coach Aaron Lewis seemingly acknowledging a PK. But the referee waived for play to continue and no chance was awarded.

Attacking midfielder Carlos Rodriguez helped the Steelheads control the ball. He was named “Man of the Match” for SnoCo FC.

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Cover photo from https://twitter.com/SRiesterer/status/1127587876173017088

Something to build on

WWPL-LOGO-LARGEHead Coach Dagi Kesim was very pleased with the performance of his guys. After the match he had high praise for the back line of Cade Cooke, Gunnar Stohl and John Troka. He was excited about the second half comeback as well. “I will tell you this,” the coach said, “it was a great performance for us. The Timbers are a talented team and we rose to their level and showed that we have a lot to offer.”

Kesim knows this is a trip the Steelheads can build on. “We are a new team, with local guys from Snohomish…and we went down there and almost tied or even won that match. Our guys know now that when they stay motivated they can play at a high level. Now we need to remember this and set our expectations for ourselves higher in league play.”