Top candidates to become the Sounders next Homegrown Player
Posted by: Dave Clark, Special from SounderAtHeart.com
Last season saw DeAndre Yedlin come from no where and put forward a strong rookie season. These four other Homegrown Players could feature for Seattle soon and fill roles needed in 2014.
One of the five pillars of Seattle Sounders FC is the youth within the club. Multiple times during the Sounders FC Alliance Business Meeting last week those on stage pointed to the success of DeAndre Yedlin and the youth just behind him trying to follow his path to the professional ranks. Four specific players are just on the edge of that decision and could push General Manager Adrian Hanauer and Head Coach Sigi Schmid for their second or third or even fourth Homegrown Player signings.
Interestingly, all could fill a role that currently sits empty on the Sounders FC roster. One is a pure wide player, two feature in wide roles regularly and the last is a kind of hybrid target man/wide man.
Currently at the University of Washington, Jones had a strong season after succeeding in the community college ranks, and he's a regular at the Starfire training fields. During the 2013 preseason he showed that his athleticism is on par with a professional player, if not better. While he came up as a forward in the youth ranks his success in college is due to his ability to play a cutting in style left winger who can play up top. His willingness to take players on the dribble may need refinement, but his powerful shot, stunning speed and decent passing should translate to a pro career soon. He is most likely a left wing, but could be a withdrawn forward or left forward type.
The current Stanford left mid is a former Washington State Player of the Year and played on the U-18 roster with Yedlin. Kovar is the strongest defensively of the four and has the deepest midfield roots. He can play a bit centrally but it is near the touchline where his strong cross is most potent. He's a decent set-piece taker who can challenge defenses in multiple ways. Like all future Homegrown Players Kovar trained with the club over the summer. He's a bit slight, but does not shy from contact. Kovar is a left midfielder who could play higher if needed.
Also a former state player of the year and Stanford player Morris went from not in the Academy to become a United States U-20 quality forward. His club and high school roots are in the midfield, but it is up top where he shined. Broad and fast with a quality first touch and instincts for scoring, Morris was challenged when he played in the Red, White and Blue. There he showed that against pros he is best as a withdrawn forward or winger. With the Cardinal he's back up top, but in a two forward set. When he makes the step to pro ranks he can work on either side as a scoring winger or underneath a target man.
After a few years in the ACC with Wake Forrest Okoli showed the potential for what a soccer education at a top school can do for a player. No longer able to rely on pure athleticism to succeed he developed a strong touch and a quicker trigger. This year he showed both of those things and a willingness to play with his back to goal. At the professional level Okoli could be an Eddie Johnson type target man who plays as both a target and someone who could drift wide using athleticism to cut back into the area.
These four players are the next most ready, but the wave of talent coming through the Seattle Sounders FC Youth Academy system is continuing to grow. A list of names of talents with potential for pro careers is getting too long. The Future is strong.
Sounder at Heart is a blog about the Seattle Sounders FC, with occasional forays into Democracy in Sports, Roster Management, Tactical Analysis, Soccer Statistics and Life in Puget Sound.
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