The Sounders FC’s highly successful U18 team from 2010 is finishing up their first year of college and many will return to Seattle with an opportunity to continue to wear the rave green. The Sounders FC U23 team will start play with games on May 11 and May 12 with back-to-back road games against the Vancouver Whitecaps and Victoria Highlanders.
The summer program will allow the Sounders FC and director of youth development the chance to keep tabs on some of their rising young talent from the Academy, like Troy Peterson, Sean Okoli and DeAndre Yedlin. It also gives those players a field of competition for the off-season that will keep them sharp when their college season kicks off.
However, many of those players are still away at school and will join the team days before their first match, so Sawatzky, who is the head coach of the U23 squad, will make do with what he has until those players can join the team.
“You can’t make lemonade without lemons,” Sawatzky said. “We just don’t have the kids here until June, so I have to be smart about player selection until then.”
In a 3-2 win over Gonzaga in their first preseason game, Sawatzky got a good look at some of the U18 alums who are attending local colleges like Jamael Cox, Darwin Jones and Brandon Brockway. It also opened his eyes to Concordia University product Facundo Dipascuale, who netted a hat trick in a 3-2 victory for the Sounders.
“Facundo jumped right up on the radar when he scored a hat trick,” Sawatzky laughed.
Dipascuale had 31 goals and 28 assists in four seasons at the NAIA school in Portland, earning second-team All-American honors as a senior when he had 11 goals and 11 assists.
Potential diamonds in the rough like Dipascuale will blend in with the likes of established young players like Okoli, Yedlin and Peterson that have experience at the US youth level. 2010 Gatorade National Player of the Year Nick Palodichuk was slated to join the team, too, but will miss the season with an injury.
“It’s an extension between our Academy and the first team,” Sawatzky said. “It’ll be great to see kids like Troy Peterson, Sean Okoli and DeAndre Yedlin to see how much they’ve grown, but also to get them back in a rave green jersey.”
After the back-to-back games in Canada, the Sounders will face the Kitsap Pumas in Bremerton on May 19 before playing their home opener on May 25 against Victoria Highlanders at Franklin Pierce High School.
Among the highlights of the schedule are two matches at historic Cheney Stadium in Tacoma – one May 30 against the Vancouver Whitecaps and the other June 15 against the Kitsap Pumas – and a June 2 matchup with the Portland Timbers at Tumwater High School.
For more information and to follow the team, visit www.SoundersU23.com.