This Sunday, the Sounders FC U-18 Academy team will begin the Group Stage of Finals Week in Houston with a match against the Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-18s. The team is having a wildly successful year and on Wednesday received more accolades heading into their first-ever Finals Week appearance when Jordan Morris was named the USSDA National U-18 Player of the Year by U.S. Soccer.
The award comes after Morris scored 27 goals in 28 regular season matches for the Sounders FC U-18s, earning a spot in U.S. U-20 National Team training camp and the Toulon Tournament in France. He finished the season as the Player of the Year for the West Conference and beat out the regional winners from the East Conference and Central Conference – New York Red Bulls defender Matt Miazga and FC Dallas midfielder Kellyn Acosta, who are both under contract with the MLS sides.
“He’s always been a good player and I think he really found himself this year in a lot of ways,” said Sounders FC Director of Youth Development Darren Sawatzky. “The potential with him is still great. The sky’s the limit with that kid.”
Morris, a Mercer Island High School product, is committed to playing at Stanford University in the fall, where he will join former Sounders FC Academy midfielder and 2012 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Aaron Kovar.
Along with Morris, goalkeeper Connor Adkisson was also recognized this week as the top goalkeeper in the West Conference, making the regional Best XI after a standout season in front of the net.
“He’s been steady. He’s a quiet guy and he played in our ODP system that we worked with for the Sounders for a long time,” Sawatzky said. “When we’ve asked him to be a good goalkeeper, he’s been a good goalkeeper.”
A Decatur High School alum, Adkisson is headed to Regis University in Colorado in the fall.
Their seasons aren’t quite done yet, though. After Sunday’s match against Vancouver, the Sounders FC U-18s will meet Albertson SC from Long Island, New York, on Tuesday, then the New York Red Bulls on July 18.
“It really comes down to how that first game goes. If you win that first game and get a little bit of momentum and get some points in the next game, you’re looking at going to the national final,” Sawatzky said. “We’re extremely proud of them. Our job is to develop players, but nobody plays the game to lose.”