TACOMA, WASH. – Sounders FC 2 (1-0-0, 3 points) opened its 2018 USL season and a new era of S2 soccer in Tacoma with an emphatic 2-1 victory over archrival Portland Timbers 2 (0-0-1, 0 points) on Friday night. It was a historic occasion, as a soldout Cheney Stadium crowd of 6,049 fans witnessed Tacoma’s new professional club win its first match in the City of Destiny. Felix Chenkam and Nick Hinds bagged two goals at the end of the first half within two minutes of each other, giving Head Coach John Hutchinson his first win as S2 manager.
“I was telling some of the younger guys that it felt like a mini-Century Link,” S2 forward David Estrada said. “I think this the type of atmosphere that these young guys are relishing the opportunity to get on the field. I think the fans were with us the whole game, it’s a beautiful thing to see the support of Tacoma for this team, and kind of embracing it as their own.”
After Augustine Williams put Portland into the lead in the 30th minute, it was Chenkam that leveled the match at one goal apiece from the penalty spot, netting S2’s first-ever goal in Tacoma in the 43rd minute. Hinds scored from open play minutes later, partnering with David Olsen on a one-touch combination inside the area for a clean finish in front of the supporters’ section. Riding those two strikes to victory, S2 sealed the win at its new home, finishing the match with a passing accuracy of 75.5%, 15 total shots and 52.2% of the overall possession.
“Massive crowd, great environment for our team to play in first and foremost,” Hutchinson said. “I just want to thank all the people who came out tonight. It was a massive effort to support the S2 boys and I know they are very grateful. They couldn’t wait to get out here and to start the home opener against Portland at home in front of a big crowd.”
Tonight marked the first match at Cheney Stadium in the era of S2’s new partnership with the Tacoma Rainiers. In November of 2017, Sounders FC and the Rainiers announced that beginning this season, Sounders FC 2’s previously-announced transition to Tacoma was accelerating, allowing S2 to play its home matches at Cheney while progress continues toward a new soccer-specific facility. The two clubs previously reached a historic agreement to build a 5,000-seat facility in Central Tacoma on the footprint of Cheney Stadium. While that process moves forward, South Sound soccer fans are now able to see their USL side play in Tacoma several seasons ahead of schedule.
The club returns USL play on March 24 at Swope Park Rangers, with Hutchinson’s side returning to the friendly confines of Cheney Stadium on Wednesday, Match 28 against Fresno FC (7:00 p.m. PT / USLsoccer.com).