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Roots Report: Rennico Clarke

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Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

T2 haven't won a game since June 4th. The last time T2 got a win and all 3 points was a full two months ago in Boise, Idaho. It has been quite a rough summer.

Seattle Sounders 2: 1-0 Loss

This was a rough one to watch. T2 fell to S2 by one goal, which was scored very late in the game. Rough not just for the result but also because it was quite dull too. It really felt like the whole objective for T2 was to go in and put 11 guys behind the ball and defend for a full 90 to leave with a point. T2 only took 2 shots in the entire game and neither were on frame, so they did not challenge the S2 keeper even once.

Midfielder Mark O'Ojong provided the home side with the lone goal in the 89th minute. After nearly succeeding at the appeared plan to bunker for 90 minutes and leave with a point, O'Ojong hit a right footed shot that deflected off Trevor Morley and into the net. And with that, T2 got back on the bus and came home empty handed.

Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC: 1-1 Draw

In the previous match against S2, despite the appearance of a byzantine bus parking plan, the T2 defense did in fact perform well with Kendall McIntosh making 6 good saves in that match (outside of the fact they still let one goal in and it cost them everything). In this match, it was a lot of the same from the defense, but the offense did decide to show up too.

McIntosh made 10 saves, some of the very acrobatic kind with high 'wow' factor in them, and despite giving up a penalty kick and another goal, helped the T2 defense out when they were scrambling back into position with his very good hands.

There isn't much to say in the first half, so we will go right to the second half where Colorado Springs Switchbacks earned a penalty kick in the 49th minute that would see them break the scoreless deadlock if they put it away. However, team captain Luke Vercollone, let his team down by putting his kick off the post, allowing T2 to dodge a mighty big bullet.

Colorado did eventually find the net though in the 73rd minute through Miguel Gonzalez, but it was only 3 minutes after that, in the 76th minute, that Rennico Clarke scored his second goal in as many games. Bijev sent a cross into the box from a set piece that found the right foot of Clarke inside the six yard box and the highly rated central defender made no mistake to get the ball into the net and help secure a result for his team.

T2 Defense & Rennico Clarke

Outside of the 4-1 thrashing from Los Dos, it has been very rare for T2 to give up more than one goal a game. So many of their losses are 1-0 losses, and all three draws recently have been 1-1 draws. Unfortunately the offense has been no where to be seen since June 4th. Two full months since T2 have been able to get more than 0 or 1 goals in a match and thus all 3 points.

While there isn't anything to shake a stick at with the T2 defense mostly doing well to only give up one goal a game, there is still a lot of scrambling being done by the backline a lot of the times. And so those goals they do give up always seem to happen off deflections or bad bounces and other incidents that occur when you are out of position and scrambling back. Those times when they don't end up in a goal that is because Kendall McIntosh has shown to be quite the keeper for T2.

But Rennico Clarke stands out above the rest. Since his return from injury this season he has gotten right back into the XI and not skipped a beat. The one defender T2 have that is rarely out of position or requiring himself to scramble back, Clarke has good awareness of where he needs to be to cut the ball out. And he can score goals too. Currently the goal scorer on the team on a hot streak! He scored the lone goal vs LA II before being given a second yellow card. He had to sit out the S2 match, but upon his return got his second of the season vs Colorado Springs. That's two goals scored in two games for him. It's great to see that and great to see that the injury last season doesn't seem to have slowed him down at all. Because it is likely that Clarke will find himself on the first team sooner rather than later.

Additions/Subtractions

Alexis Meva and Akinjide Idowu were waived from the team unceremoniously as mere footnotes in an article that announced the addition of youth striker Augustine Williams to T2. More on that soon. But it is certainly disappointing to see that two exciting prospects didn't end up working out with the team. Neither really saw any minutes for T2 at all, neither were ever injured and always trained with the team. So whatever reasons saw them depart with the team, they were two prospects that just didn't pan out for the organization.

But we came into this season with 4 exciting prospects and two are still here. Dylan Damraoui and Victor Arboleda have done nothing to suggest they won't still be with the organization, whether T2 or first team (but probably T2), next season to keep developing within the system. And the stated expectations from the front office is that their goal was for one of the four prospects to work out. Anything more would be a bonus. And so it appears the results are in with expectations exceeded at a 50% success rate.

T2 brought in a forward to replace the outgoing Alexis Meva, and that was 19 year old Augustine Williams. Born in Sierra Leone and holding dual citizenship with his birth nation and current home, he was quite the prolific scorer in the US Soccer Development Academy. Scoring 20 goals, padded with 6 assists, across 41 games sounds good. Williams made his T2 debut on the same day he was signed (which also happened to be his 19th birthday) getting about 15 minutes off the bench in the 1-1 draw with Colorado Springs. Big day for the kid! We are excited to see what he might bring to the table and whether or not this prospect might work out.

One last player to mention, Lucas Cini (born in 1999! Man I'm getting old) is a Brazilian striker who is apparently all the rage in youth soccer. He joined the Timbers academy last week and if he sticks around we would have the homegrown player rights on, what is being touted as one of, if not the, top prospect for the 2019 class. Only time will tell on that one though. But still great to see that sort of addition to the academy.

USL 2017

Last week, the board of governors for the USL met during the MLS All Star Game. And a key takeaway is how the schedule will be setup in 2017. The number of games will increase from 30 to 32. And all conference opponents will get to play each other at least twice, but not more than 3 times. So (thankfully) it will end up being more balanced than it currently is. This will mean home-and-away's for every team, with the rest being made up by an extra game with regional rivalries.

What's Next?

T2 travel to Carson, California as they take on LA Galaxy II at the Stubhub Center training field. They will face off this Saturday evening, August 6th, with a 7:30pm kickoff. Catch the live stream on the main Timbers page!