When the Sounders Academy U18s started play last weekend one youngster scored in each of their games. Ike Crook’s two goals bring him to at least 23 in Academy competition. He was possibly one of the smaller players on the field. It’s something that Crook has been true for half a decade.
When Adrian Hanauer speaks about the future of the Academy and eventual Homegrown Player signee in general he always says something to the effect that it will take time to see the full potential of the Academy. Now entering its third season in the United States Soccer Development Academy system, Sounders FC are having years of impact on the young men’s lives. There are several players like Crook though that entered the USSDA before the Sounders did. Crook is a unique veteran going all the way back to its formation. At the age of 13 he played on a U16 team. Now he’s in his fifth season of Academy play.
Sounders FC Academy Technical Director Darren Sawatzky explained via email how the years have changed Ike’s game. “Ike’s will to win and his competitive spirit have grown immensely. He also understands more each day how to manage games (when to speed up play, slow play down, when you need a sense of urgency etc.). Ike also gets better each day technically because he works at his game and you will rarely see him miss an optional training.”
Some of that may be influence beyond his time in the Academy. Ike’s father is Billy Crook. One of the many locals who played for the Seattle Sounders of the NASL. Billy Crook is also a coach in the Sounders Academy system.
If* Crook is going to take the steps into a future as a pro there will be questions about his size. He’s certainly small, though still young. There will not be questions about his understanding the game. Generally a winger (positions fluctuate more at the Academy level in order to better develop talent) his style of play is a combination of Joao Plata and Mauro Rosales. He can slip between defenders with the ball at his feet or if given space deliver good crosses at his level. Unlike those two players Crook has some spunk and drive to defend. He earns more cautions than average, but it comes from an intensity and drive to help the team win the ball back. Crook will not lack for motivation.
He is undersized. In America sports height and weight measurables sometimes surpass the actual performance on the field. Crook’s performance demands attention. He’s been successful at every level so far.
*There are a lot of ifs when it comes to a future signing and projecting talent at a top pro level is more art than science. What is provided here is an example of the style of play that Ike Crook offers, not peak level of performance or what should be expected of him in the future.
Fittingly Sounders fans will get to see their Academy team at home for the first time this season on September 22nd at 1PM on Starfire Sports Field 11 against the Portland Timbers brand new Academy team.