Editor's note: The following season preview was provided by the North Sound SeaWolves.
A year ago, the North Sound SeaWolves FC embarked on its debut season not knowing what to expect. A June surge was followed by a July swoon and the club finished 4-8-4 in the Premier Development League Northwest Division.
A new season, though, brings new expectations. The club has moved its base of operations from Everett’s Goddard Stadium to Edmonds Stadium on the campus of . Only seven players return from the 2011 team, though the team is not short on experience.
“I’m excited to get going,” SeaWolves coach/owner Alex Silva said. “There is a lot of energy with this group of players. We have a group of guys who have played a lot of soccer, but they’re still young and are looking to advance their playing careers. I think we’re going to have a great year. We do understand that 2012 NW division will be one of the most competitive of all years.”
The SeaWolves play a , starting today with a game against the Fraser Valley Mariners at Bateman Park in Abbotsford, BC.
The club plays eight home games, starting June 1 against the Washington Crossfire.
The SeaWolves carry four keepers into the season, led by returning starter Claudio Lazar. Lazar was one of the division’s top shot-stoppers a year ago, using outstanding reflexes and athleticism as the leader of the backline.
Lazar will hold off challenges from a trio of players. Evan Gaul, a former keeper at Seattle University and Shoreline Community College, and Andrew Wildfong, who just completed his career at Woodinville High School and will play at Western Washington University next season, both impressed during preseason tryouts. Also in the mix is Elmer Rodriguez, a veteran of local leagues.
“This is a very impressive group of keepers,” Silva said. “Obviously Claudio is a very good keeper, a great leader, has a lot of experience in the PDL. But there’s some talented young guys here who are going to push him. I’m going to feel good about whoever we have back there, and that’s very important. Andrew Wildfong is a young talent that came around and will be playing he’s first year in college. Our GK Trainer Andrew Smolen is looking forward to see he’s development.”
The most turnover on the team comes at defense, where only one player, Kevin Cook, returns. But the newcomers are talented and Silva believes that this will be a much-improved group.
“Defense was where we had the most trouble last year,” he said. “We weren’t physical enough, there wasn’t enough toughness. That’s not going to be a problem this season.”
Cook was clearly the team’s best defender last season and the Seattle University player should hold down one of the outside spots. Ryan Blair, current Seattle University product is current recovering from an injury and will help the team later in the season.
Michael Harris, a member of the University of Washington who played for the Washington Crossfire last season, is a physical, athletic defender who is noted for his long, flipping throw-ins. Buba Findi Jammeh played on Gambia’s U-17 African Championship-winning squad and can also play a wing midfield spot. Zane Meehen started for Northwest Nazarene University this past season and Christian Strangis was a starter at Spring Arbor University.
Also in the mix is 6-5 center back Ben Elliott, a native of Manchester, England, and Gene Tibbetts, a former junior college All-American, who both came through the SeaWolves’ preseason tryouts. Finally, there’s Everett native Amara Toure.
“The competition at defense is going to be great,” Silva said. “These guys are physical, they are good leaders, we have good speed in the back. I’m excited because we’re going to be a lot better back there than last season.”
The SeaWolves return two starters at midfield from 2011, including leading scorer Marshall Kosaka, who went on to have an outstanding season at Seattle University. Also back is Arturo Brambila, who led the team in games played.
Joining the group is Mark Conrad, a veteran of the PDL who previously played for the Kitsap Pumas, Tacoma Tide and Washington Crossfire. Hill had seven goals and four assists for Spring Arbor University while Patrick Pacheco recently transferred from national power New Mexico to the University of Washington.
Also in the mix are Joao Fonseca, a Brazilian headed for Belmont College, Nasyri Rodriguez, who played in the Trinidad & Tobago youth system, and Seattle native Adnan Omer. Renato Bandeira, Brazilian player current playing for Seattle university. Josh Otusanya, local product from Lake Stevens and played for Snohomish United on the youth level and current is playing for Bradley University. Derik Chaney, Corban University player. Grow up in Montana playing for Helena Arsenal.
“There are a lot of scorers in this group,” Silva said. “We have a group of midfielders who can really get forward, but they’re also good at involving their teammates. And most importantly, they play very hard, they play the full field and they have great energy.”
Three of the five forwards on the roster are returning players, meaning the competition to be up front for the SeaWolves should be excellent.
Leading the group are Abdul Aman and Brady Ballew. Aman turned in a solid season with the SeaWolves that led to a scholarship from the University of Washington. He then was drafted in the Major League Soccer Supplemental Draft by the Seattle Sounders, spending two weeks in training camp. Ballew, a Marysville native who can also play midfield, had three goals for the SeaWolves last season and redshirted at Seattle University in 2011.
“Those two were both very dangerous attackers for us last year,” Silva said. “They are both fast, can finish well, are aggressive. It’s good to have them both back.”
The third returner is Mohamed Mohamud, who played in just two games a year ago but will be available for the full season.
Also in the mix are University of Washington player Quinton Beasley and Highline Community College scorer Tody Tolo. Beasley, who played for the Tacoma Tide last season, had three goals for the Huskies in 2011 and Tolo scored 12 goals for Highline.”
“Quinton is very experienced, a very good scorer and knows how to be successful in the PDL,” Silva said. “Tody showed us some good things in our tryouts. He’s a big, strong forward who scored a lot for his college team and I’m excited to see what he can do at this level.”