VANCOUVER, B.C. - The Sounders FC Academy teams traveled up to Vancouver on Sunday and both lost their season finales to rivals Whitecaps FC, the U16’s falling 2-0 while a jumbled U18 squad was downed 9-0.
The U16’s (15-7-4, 10-3-1 NW Division) have qualified for the USSDA Playoffs, held in Dallas later this month. After starting the season 7-1-2, they finished second in the Northwest Division, only behind Vancouver.
"The U16 Sounder team was the first team to qualify for the playoffs in the entire academy,” says Sounders FC Youth Academy Director Darren Sawatzky, “We are proud of these boys and it is a testament to their hard work this year."
The U18’s (9-13-4, 7-6-1 NW Division) failed to make the playoffs despite a winning divisional record. The lopsided result against Vancouver was the product of a mixed Seattle side, as many Pre-Academy Sounders played up to gain experience in a game without playoff implications.
"The Academy is set up to develop players for the highest level,” Sawatzky says. “This past weekend was an opportunity for younger players to see a level higher than they have seen and falls in line with the philosophy issued from US Soccer."
U18 forward Dom Dismuke came off the bench to score the lone goal for Sounders FC in a MLS Reserve League match Friday night at Starfire Sports Stadium. U18 teammate Aaron Kovar assisted on the goal in the 2-1 defeat to Vancouver. Kovar was one of three Academy players to start the match, with defenders Michael Gallagher and Jacob Beck. Jordan Schweitzer was in the 18, but did not enter the game.
Sounders Academy have just three weeks off before traveling to Dallas from June 24-29, where the U16’s will have three games of USSDA Playoffs and the U18’s have three showcase games.
It’s a short offseason as the 2012-13 USSDA season begins in early September, but expect Academy players to continue getting opportunities with the top squad in MLS Reserve League matches all summer.