Sounders Academy standout Victor Mansaray to play for U-18 National Team

On the same day the DeAndre Yedlin made news with his transfer from Sounders FC to Tottenham Hotspur, Seattle’s Academy saw another young player earn recognition. U-16 standout Victor Mansaray was named to the U.S. U-18 National Team for the 21st International Tournament of Vaclav Jezek in the Czech Republic.

“It’s pretty exciting for a young player and it’s really exciting for the rest of our Academy kids to see one of their guys moving up,” Sounders FC Sporting Director Chris Henderson said. “That’s the goal for these guys to play at higher levels, but he’s standing his own. We’re excited for him and for the development of our Academy.”

Already he has come a long way since entering the Sounders FC Academy midway through the 2012-2013 season. He finished that season with 11 goals in just 20 matches, while coming off the bench in nine of those matches.

In his second season with the U-16s, he scored a team-high 18 goals in helping the team reach the national tournament for a second straight season.

“I proved myself to the coaches and they liked my game and what I bring to the table. I played the first season, but came off the bench most of the time. Once my number got called, I was able to score goals. Suddenly I became a regular starter for the team,” said Mansaray, who is eager to rejoin his teammates with the Sounders FC U-18s this season. “I was able to improve, but I had some ups and downs during the season. I’m just excited for this season. I’m in great shape and ready to play.”

The call-up comes after an eventful summer for the 17-year-old Fife native, as he has spent the last several weeks training with the Sounders FC first team, working shoulder-to-shoulder with players like Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins.

That gives him the chance to work with professionals and learn the rigors that come with those day-to-day training sessions while also picking up the tricks of the trade from one of the top teams in MLS.

“It’s all kind of falling together for him. It is great when you have a player of his talent and you’re able to work with him every day,” Henderson said. “Physically, he has the tools and he’s able to compete and he’s open to learning and the guys are willing to help him. At his age, every single day is an experience – the little things he can take from Obafemi or Clint or comments from Chad Marshall. Whatever it is, he can take that and put it in his bag of tricks.”

He will take that repertoire with him to Czech Republic with 19 other aspiring young players on an 11-day trip. It is his first international call-up after a long personal journey that has taken him from Sierra Leone to Jamaica and now to Fife, where his family has moved over the past several years.

However, just like his original tryout with the Sounders FC Academy, he is prepared to show his wares with the U.S.

“I don’t know what to expect going into camp, but I’m confident in my game and I’m going to show the coaches what I have,” Mansaray said. “It’s all about who’s ready and I want to show the coaches who I am and what I can do. I’m ready for the challenge. There’s going to be competition out there and I’m ready to take it on.”

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