Bellingham United FC faced-off against the Seattle Sounders U-23 team in an exhibition match ending in a 1-1 tie at Civic Stadium on Saturday, May 9.
The Bellingham United Hammers started the match with quick intensity and defensive pressure. At the second minute, the Sounders made a quick attack on the outside and crossed in for a volley, hitting the Hammers’ far post. Bellingham countered with an attack in the third minute with a bicycle kick into the Sounders’ net by midfielder Brendan Quilici after the goalie blocked a cross-in header by the Hammers.
“I just tried to make good contact and hoped for the best,” Quilici said.
As the game progressed, the Sounders picked up aggression and increased possession. At the 13th minute, Hammers goalie Mark Pollack made a diving save from a long shot by the Sounders.
Two minutes later, Pollack contested a cross and was kicked in the hand as he punched the ball away. Pollack continued to play for the remainder of the half. At the 34th minute, Sounders’ midfielder Florian Valot ran up the center of the field for a pass by defender Alex DeCarolis and shot at the lower left corner of the Hammers’ net, tying the match 1-1.
The Sounders’ attack strategy mostly consisted of bringing the ball up the field on the sides to cross in for a shot on goal. Hammers defender and “Hammer of The Match” Uche Ugwoaba kept the Sounders from completing crosses.
“The Sounders’ game plan was to take the ball down the line and cross it in, so my main goal was to get to the cross before their forward,” Ugwoaba said.
Ugwoaba is planning to work on better clearances for future matches, he said.
The second half continued with the ball traveling back and forth in both ends of the field. Within the last 10 minutes of the match, the Hammers picked up offensive pressure and came close to netting goals on two separate occasions. One hit the crossbar and another was from a free kick outside the 18-yard box. The last play of the game was a diving block by Hammers’ goalie Riley Liddle after a shot on goal by the Sounders.
“One thing I wanted to do in this match was to make sure our defending was tighter,” Hammers’ head coach Lance Calloway said. “We’ve made some defensive errors and really worked hard this week on it and I’m happy to say we solved those issues tonight.”
Overall, Calloway said he was pleased with the team’s performance, mentioning players Uche Ugwoaba and Carlos Badillo in defense and Brendan Quilici and Kurtis Pederson in the midfield.