The Sounders FC has gotten in the habit of adding players for their Academy to the list of contributors to the US National Teams youth pools.
On Monday, another name was added to the list as Jalen Markey received his first call to play with the U-18 National Team in their January training camp that runs from January 2-9 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
Also taking part in Janaury camps are Sean Okoli and DeAndre Yedlin, both Sounders Academy products who will play for the U-20 National Team.
“That’s a testament to their hard work and the Sounders are very proud of them,” said Sounders FC director of youth development Darren Sawatzky.
Markey is an imposing center back who has helped the Sounders FC U-16s to a 10-2-2 record and has three goals on the young season. He caught the attention of US U-18 coach Richie Williams at the US Soccer Development Academy Winter Showcase in Ft. Lauderdale last month. He was named to all-star game, where he played right back and picked up an assist.
Simplicity is the name of the game for Markey, a junior at Seattle’s O’Dea High School.
“I like to keep the ball. I don’t like to hit it long and just clear it for no reason,” he said. “I like to play simple. I think that’s the best way to play.”
That ability to play with the ball at his feet will help the 16-year-old Markey rise through the ranks, according to Sawatzky.
“Jalen is a prototypical center back,” Sawatzky said. “He’s tall, he’s strong and he’s good in the air, but he also has really good feet. That will serve him well. At the national level, you have to be able to play out of that position.”
Markey will join his former O’Dea teammate Yedlin and Todd Beamer High School alum Okoli in Florida.
Yedlin just finished his freshman season at Akron, where he helped the Zips to a 15-4-4 record before they fell in the third round of the NCAA tournament to Charlotte. He finished the season with one goal and six assists while making 20 starts.
“DeAndre is a quick attacking outside back. He’s got an opportunity to get to the next level, but each of these camps is a new step for him,” Sawatzky said. “It’ll take him time to mature and develop, but I expect a big sophomore year out him.”
Okoli was solid in his freshman campaign as well, scoring four goals to go with three assists to help the Demon Deacons to an 8-8-5 record. Their season ended with a 2-0 loss to James Madison in the NCAA Tournament.
The Sounders FC Academy teams will return from winter break with matches against Real Salt Lake’s Arizona club on January 21 at Grande Sports World in Casa Grande, Arizona. Their next home matches don’t come until March 17 a Starfire, when they will take on Crossfire.