Former Huskies star Handwalla Bwana scores his second goal of the preseason in the 68th minute to lead the Sounders to a 2-1 victory over the Portland Timbers in Tucson, Ariz.
Former University of Washington Huskies sensation Handwalla Bwana continues to impress this pre-season, scoring his second goal in as many games for the Sounders on Saturday to give them a 2-1 win over the archrival Portland Timbers in Tucson, Ariz. Bwana, still only 18, showed great poise in the 68th minute in taking a pass from Zach Mathers off a turnover, controlling the ball, then unleashing a right-footed blast from just inside the box that found the back of the net.
The onetime refugee from Kenya, who moved to the United States in 2010, spent two seasons with the Huskies — scoring 12 goals — before the Sounders signed him as a Homegrown player.
The Sounders were playing a Major League Soccer opponent for the first time this pre-season, having taken down a Tijuana U20 squad from Mexico last week. The team is spending the week in Arizona training ahead of a Feb. 22 CONCACAF Champions League match in El Salvador against Santa Tecla FC, so the need for first teamers to ready themselves is great and opportunities for Bwana and other young players will be limited.
Therefore, he’s made the most of his opportunity to date.
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For now, the team is focused on getting itself game ready without injuries. Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer did some experimenting with a 4-4-2 formation that saw Jordan Morris and Will Bruin up top and it paid dividends early on with a strong looking attack that got on the board in the ninth minute.
Harry Shipp showed some hustle intercepting a pass in Portland territory and after some brief Sounders posession, Bruin fed Shipp with a ball to the box. After the initial stop was made, Morris was hauled down as he attempted to get the rebound, but Cristian Roldan was right there to put it in the net.
Portland equalized in the 24th minute when Diego Valeri headed home a Sebastian Blanco cross to the box in a scene reminiscent of many goals scored by the Timbers in 2017 and allowed by the Sounders as well. The Sounders had tightened up on crosses as last season progressed, but this time the dangerous Valeri was left alone in front of Stefan Frei, who had no chance.
The Sounders have already spent a week training in Chula Vista, Calif. ahead of traveling to Tucson following some days off in Seattle. The early start to the schedule with the Champions League matches upcoming means the team has yet to have a regular workout at its training facility in Tukwila, Wash., preferring to train instead in better conditions down south.
While the Sounders held one official workout in Tukwila, it was mainly attended by Sounders2 players and reserves with Nicolas Loderio the only first-teamer there. The team is to start holding workouts at its facility within another week or so ahead of the Champions League matchup.