The formal announcement of DeAndre Yedlin signing with Seattle Sounders FC signaled not just a moment of joy for Yedlin, but also for the dozens of players who wear or have worn the Rave Green with the Academy teams. They took to social media to show just how proud they were of DeAndre and many declared that it was just more motivation to work hard and maybe be next.
All of these potential professionals cannot wait to start. Development takes time. For Yedlin it started “with” the Sounders nearly a decade ago.
“Sean Henderson is a coach in our Academy system. He’s been coaching DeAndre directly at a bunch of different levels for close to a decade,” Sounders Academy Technical Director Darren Sawatzky said over the phone shortly after the signing. “He’s had a lot of influence on him. I coached DeAndre in the ODP program and obviously in the Academy, but our staff has been working with DeAndre for close to a decade. Obviously Dick McCormick did a great job in the Academy with him.”
While the Sounders Academy is young, many of these top players in the area were attached to the best coaches in the region. Yedlin’s connection with the coaching staff is not unique. There are others. Some of them may be ready soon as well.
In this week’s media conference call with Sounders FC Sporting Director Chris Henderson indicated others are nearly there. “We feel like there are some future Homegrown Players for us that would go pretty high in this draft. We feel really happy in the development of our Homegrown Players in the next couple years.”
That crack in the door of the Yedlin signing, followed by praise of the Sporting Director is just a sign of hope. Again, it takes that unique combination of natural talent and hard work.
“All the players are going to be excited because we hope over the coming years more and more players sign. That’s up to the first team staff.” Sawatzky explained. “Our job is to get them prepared. The players’ jobs is to work hard. The first team will make that decision if they are ready. It is exciting to have that first one in the books.”
Those players in college will have the spring exhibition season and then PDL play in the next few months. Yedlin took his summer with the Sounders U23s and logged every minute, refining his skills under game conditions. The current Academy players just returned from a midseason winter break. After their excitement of seeing one of their own sign a pro deal, they did fitness testing. In February the Sounders Academy returns to USSDA action with games against the Santa Cruz and the DeAnza Force.
Now, each of them know that there is no closed door to signing a pro deal with their hometown club. They also know it will take a dedication to their hopeful profession, skill and just that right amount of good fortune.