Sounders FC has had a lot of reasons to be proud of its youth development structure of late. DeAndre Yedlin was a breakout star at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, playing in three matches for the U.S. National Team on a run to the Round of 16. Both U-18 and U-16 Academy teams reached the USSDA National Tournament, with the U-18s advancing to the quarterfinals.
Wednesday, Major League Soccer put another feather in Seattle’s development cap when it announced the roster for the 2014 Chipotle MLS Homegrown Game, and two Sounders FC players made the 20-man squad. Yedlin will be joined by Sean Okoli, as Seattle is one of seven MLS teams to have two players represented in the exhibition match against the Portland Timbers U-23s on August 4 at Providence Park, preceding the 2014 AT&T MLS All-Star Game.
Yedlin has already achieved high marks in his young professional career. He led Sounders FC in minutes played as a rookie with 3,710, earning a spot on the 2013 AT&T MLS All-Star team and as a finalist for the 2013 MLS Rookie of the Year. That experience helped earn him a spot on the U.S. roster for the FIFA U-20 World Cup last June and he impressed enough to earn an invite to the full national team in January, making his U.S. National Team debut in February. His meteoric rise landed him on the U.S. World Cup roster, where he logged 112 minutes in Brazil, including an extended appearance in the Round of 16 loss to Belgium when he subbed on in the first half for the injured Fabian Johnson.
Yedlin, who celebrates his 21st birthday on Wednesday, played one year with the Sounders FC U-18s before playing two seasons with University of Akron. He was the first Homegrown player signed by Sounders FC in January of 2013.
Okoli has had a much more gradual growth curve in MLS, playing 18 minutes in two appearances thus far in his rookie campaign. He also tallied a goal for Seattle in the U.S. Open Cup, playing 90 minutes in a 5-0 win over PSA Elite in the fourth round of the tournament.
The 21-year-old Federal Way native was a standout in three seasons at Wake Forest University, scoring 24 goals in 61 appearances before signing with Seattle in January. He has also appeared at the international level with the U.S. U-20, U-18 and U-17 teams.
Both Yedlin and Okoli helped the Sounders FC U-18s reach the quarterfinals of the 2011 USSDA National Tournament in the inaugural year of the program in Seattle.
Among the others to highlight the roster are Gyasi Zardes of the LA Galaxy, Harrison Shipp of the Chicago Fire, Wil Trapp of the Columbus Crew and Shane O’Neill of the Colorado Rapids.
The match will kickoff at 7 pm PT from Providence Park on Monday, August 4, and will be streamed online at MLSsoccer.com and WatchESPN. Tickets are free and can be claimed on a first come, first served basis by visiting www.chipotlehomegrown.com/#game.