CUPERTINO, CALIF. - The return to league play in 2012 was not ideal for the Sounders FC Academy this past weekend as both teams traveled down to northern California and resumed the 2011-12 USSDA season. The U16’s split a pair of lopsided contests, while the U18’s, despite a strong performance Sunday, were swept by the Santa Cruz Breakers and DeAnza Force. These were the first league games played since December 18 due to the cancellation of the January 21 games at Real Salt Lake Arizona.
The U18’s opened up the weekend Saturday in Santa Cruz with a 4-1 loss. The Breakers got on the board in the 15th minute, then a penalty kick made it 2-0 after Michael Gallagher was called for a hand ball in the box. The Sounders were forced to play a man down from the 27th minute-on, after a red card was issued to Miles Nilsen. The match got even more physical before the half, with cautions issued to Jordan Schweitzer and Austin Sweeney. Ike Crook scored the lone Seattle goal early in the second half before Santa Cruz tacked on two more before the final whistle.
It was quite the opposite for the U16’s on Saturday as they showed their offensive prowess that had scored 14 goals in their last three USSDA games. In the 10th minute, James Nosack scored on an assist from David Olsen. Just a minute later, Miguel Medina fed Olsen to make it 2-0. After the Breakers scored to cut the lead in half, Medina made it 3-1 in the final minutes before half. A Michael Steele free kick began a progression that finished with Duncan McCormick feeding Medina for a score. Kyle Bjornethun increased the lead to 4-1 early in the second half on an 18-yard strike, and a Jalen Markey score later made it 5-1. The young substitutes got in on the action later on, with Denis Kalamar feeding Isidro Prado-Huerta to round out the scoring at 6-1. The six goals against Santa Cruz made it 20 goals in four games for the Rave Green.
On Sunday, the teams traveled up to Cupertino, California, to take on DeAnza Force. The U18’s played a hard-fought, up and down game in the blistering heat. Despite a multitude of chances for both teams, DeAnza came away with a 1-0 win, with the lone goal in the 34th minute on a counter-attack. The game was highlighted for the Sounders by a couple of big saves from keeper Keenan Townsend. Towards the end, the chances kept coming to equalize, but the Rave Green failed to convert. Recent Stanford-commit Aaron Kovar, the 2011 Gatorade Washington Player of the Year, returned from an injury and made some plays from the left flank, including a scoring chance late that was saved by the DeAnza keeper. U16 defender Jalen Markey played for the U18’s Sunday and was issued a first half yellow card after a hard tackle at midfield.
The U16’s matchup on Sunday was dominated by the Force. With goals in the 25th and 35th minutes (the latter a penalty kick), the home squad was in control from the beginning. Olsen had two good chances just minutes apart before the end of the first half, but one was saved and the other hit the side-netting. DeAnza scored early in the second half, making it a 3-0 final.
The U18’s are now 8-4-2, but have lost three of their last four league matches. The U16’s sit at 9-3-2, with Sunday’s loss snapping a streak of seven league wins. Both teams return to action February 25 on the road against the California Development Academy.
Back on January 18, the Sounders FC Pre-Academy defeated the much-older Eastside U18, 3-2, with all goals occurring in the first half. Kalab Karlak finished an Elliot Havens cross to put the Rave Green up 1-0 in the 16th minute. Eastside equalized on a free kick in the 22nd before Sean Bowman netted a screamer from 30 yards out, putting the Sounders up 2-1. After yet another Eastside free-kick equalizer, Jose Ramos scored in the 39th on a 35-yard bomb for the game-winner.