Kenyan prospect Handwalla Bwana has come in for praise for his contributions at Major League Soccer (MLS) side Seattle Sounders.
Bwana, 19, was called in to action for the senior side - as well as emerging stars Alex Roldan, Jordan McCrary and Henry Wingo and Handwalla Bwana at a time the big boys in the squad had been sidelined for a reason or another, majorly through injuries.
Bwana's upscale - as well as the other trio - from the clubs second outfit in the second tier USL, has been to good effect as they are now a whole lot experienced and adding to the club's depth.
As reported by Joseph Mondello of SoundersFC.com, Seattle Sounders head into their tenth consecutive appearance in the postseason starting Monday 5 November with Western Conference semis against Portland Timbers with arguably the deepest roster since the club’s MLS era began in 2009.
“Obviously our goal as a developmental program in the Academy and S2 is to prepare players for the First Team,” said Sounders FC Director of Player Development and Academy Director Marc Nicholls. “They have to earn that right, but sometimes they also have to be ready for any opportunity that might come their way. I think you’ve seen that with a couple of players.”
According to Mondello of SoundersFC.com, the young quartet have amassed a combined 23 MLS starts, with a further 28 appearances off the bench and in the USL they have continued their development with S2, combining for 1,983 minutes.
Of that collection, Bwana - in the bracket to feature for Kenya in the near future - has 12 MLS games and four in the USL.
“I think you find out about young players’ character and their ability to handle pressure,” said Nicholls. “Young players often surprise you when you give them a chance,"
"In Handwalla’s case, he’s contributed with some very important goals in Toronto and in Orlando (scored game winning goals), both at critical times of the season. He’s not just a getting a few minutes here and there, he has the potential to change the game.”
Last Sunday, with a potential No. 2 seed on the line as the Sounders trailed the Earthquakes 1-0, Head Coach Brian Schmetzer made his first substitution in the 75th minute, bringing on Bwana for Kelvin Leerdam. The exciting Academy alum made an immediate impact as he drove at defenders, bringing more attacking verve to the game. Four minutes after entering the fray, the Sounders grabbed the equalizer from his side of the pitch.
“Well, I think you guys saw why I put him on the field,” Schmetzer said in his post-match press conference. “The game was OK. We were creating some chances. But he provided a very big spark off the bench.”
Bwana and Co. will be called to action on Monday 5 November in the first leg of the Western Conference semis away to Portland Timbers- home to Kenyan International Lawrence Olum. Four days later they will host the reverse clash with a view of qualifying for a third straight MLS Cup final.