MILWAUKEE, Wisc. - The Sounders FC has high expectations all throughout the club.
So it should come as no surprise that the U16 Academy team finished fifth in the nation in their first season of competition.
The U16s went 1-1-1 in the group stage of the USSDA National Finals last week, but finished third in their group and wound up facing North Carolina Fusion in the fifth/sixth place game.
Coming off of a tough-to-handle 3-0 loss to the LA Galaxy in the final group stage match that could have sent them to the championship, the Sounders came out strong in the consolation round. Austin Sweeney scored in the 35th minute and Michael Steele added another in the 68th minute to give Seattle the 2-0 win to end their season.
After getting the bulk of their goals from their forwards all season, the Sounders got help from the midfield and defense in the tournament. Sweeney, a midfielder, scored twice to boost his goal total to 11, while Steele scored his fifth goal of the year and defender Jacob Beck scored his first.
“The soccer was great. Our boys did quite well. The only issue was that we butted up against an LA Galaxy team that we didn’t match up well against,” director of youth development Darren Sawatzky said. “They’re a very good team, they won the national championship. All-in-all, a great experience. Our guys rose to the occasion and it was an opportunity for some of the guys to prove that they should have played a lot more over the course of the competition.”
The off-season lasted all of about 24 hours for Sawatzky, who hosted tryouts on Monday and Tuesday and will leave this weekend with a group of players for the Generation adidas Cup.
Many of the players from the U16s will play next year with the U18s, who reached the National tournament, but did not reach the final stages.
“It’s a very quick trial by fire,” Sawatzky said. “We’ll have some hard discussions with some kids over the next few days, but for most part everybody’s graduating into the older teams.”