The number of teens practicing with the Seattle Sounders FC this week increased a little bit as former Sounders Academy players Aaron Kovar and Ian Lange joined practices during their university Spring Breaks. Throughout the year various college players, both from the Academy and others with a pro future, will train with MLS sides. For those that came up through the system they need only look at their former teammate DeAndre Yedlin’s hot start to see the possibilities, but they also know that they have the Spring Soccer exhibition season in just a week or two.
“I think it is a credit to the Academy that we can come back and train during my week off for Spring Break that I can stay sharp with these guys,” former Academy centerback Ian Lange told SoundersFC.com after practice. “It’s awesome to see DeAndre out here tearing it up. It gives me hope, Kovar, guys on my team, and guys that were on that first stage of the Academy as well.”
Lange is now at the University of Washington where he plays every midfield role as well as right back and centerback. With the Sounders Reserves in 2012 he was a right back in his lone start, a 90-minute run. The Huskies are stocked with several other Academy players.
“The coaches strive to get the best local talent and then fill in the gaps with guys from elsewhere, but the Sounders raised us really good and taught us some great habits and it translates onto the field,” he said with some pride in his club and Academy.
They start their Spring schedule with a double header against both Peninsula Community College and Brigham Young University on April 6th. They face a mix of colleges, PDL teams and even the Whitecaps Reserves.
Aaron Kovar comes off of a year at Stanford where he was the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year playing mainly on the left wing. He sees the Spring exhibition games as a chance to further his development from within the college system.
“We play some good teams in the area. Teams like Santa Clara, Cal Poly, USF, so we’ve got good games coming up,” the former Washington State Gatorade Player of the Year said. “I need to keep working on some things trying to help translate to a pro game. We’ve got a good squad down there, a really good coach, but not a lot of numbers.”
That will change next year. Stanford added numbers to the class, including another former Washington Gatorade Player of the Year and Sounders Academy player, forward Jordan Morris.
When Kovar and other Academy alumni get the opportunity to re-don the Rave Green the practices are a different kind of intense from their past experiences in college, the Academy, Youth National Teams and ODP.
“I love coming out here,” Aaron said. “You always get pushed. People aren’t afraid to let you know when you make mistakes. The coaching is great and the players are great. They’re really helpful.”
Whether through training with pros, the upcoming Spring Games and the PDL the goal is simple – to follow in the footsteps of Yedlin. It is true for these two and it will be true for the dozens of Academy grads around the country.
“I’m really happy for him. DeAndre and I have been friends see I was ten years old so it’s really exciting to see him doing well,” Kovar spoke of his friend. “I just hope I can follow in his footsteps”
Seattle University opens their Spring against Western Washington on April 14th.
Seattle Pacific University has yet to release the schedule for Spring, but do face the UW Huskies on May 3rd.
Both of these local programs also have former Sounders Academy players who could play for the U23s or maybe the First Team someday.