Seattle Sounders FC 2 announced the signings of Academy players Danny Robles and Alec Diaz on Tuesday. There are now six players from the Sounders Academy U-17 team that won the 2017-18 USSDA national championship who are full-fledged professionals with the club’s USL side.
Longtime teammates dating back to the U-12 level, Robles and Diaz will continue to develop alongside one another in the pro ranks.
“Both players joined us from PacNW, and they’ve played a big part in each other’s development,” said Sounders FC Director of Player Development and Academy Director Marc Nicholls. “Many of the wonderful goals that Alec has scored came from Danny’s exquisite passing. Alec stretches defenses with his runs in behind, which creates more space for Danny.”
Robles and Diaz are two of the first players to traverse the club’s entire player development pathway. The pair spent several years at local youth club PacNW, with their stellar performances at the club level meriting invitations into the inaugural Sounders Discovery Program class in 2015. Both players were subsequently invited to join the Academy full-time at the U-15 level.
On Sept. 5, they made their S2 debuts together as second-half substitutes in a dramatic 4-4 comeback draw against the Tulsa Roughnecks.
“We’re really happy for the players,” said PacNW Technical Director Leighton O’Brien. “We’re happy to be part of their journey and to be the club that they started with. I always remember them playing together with our 2002 team, when they had a really good run and you could just see they were special. I remember them combining well and scoring a lot of goals, playing with that pure passion for the game. It was fun to see.”
Diaz, 16, burst onto the scene last season as he repeatedly torched opposing back lines. A dynamic No. 9 with a knack for finding the back of the net, he scored 25 goals across all competitions for the U-17s and U-19s in the 2017-18 regular season, as well as five goals in six postseason matches as the U-17s claimed a national title. He also scored the game-winning goals in both the Generation adidas Cup final and USSDA national championship match.
Through five games with the U-19s this season, he has compiled six goals and two assists. And on Saturday, Sept. 29, Diaz earned his first start in USL with S2.
“Alec’s goalscoring record speaks for itself,” said U-17 Head Coach Chris Little. “In the last 2-3 years, I’m not sure there are many players who have scored more than him. He’s really worked on the other parts of his game. His hold-up play, ability to combine, his ability to play with his back to goal and then his pressing and willingness to defend from the front have really come on as well.”
Robles, 16, has been a mainstay in the Sounders youth system since he first broke into SDP as an inventive No. 10 with an uncanny ability for creating chances for teammates. Blessed with tremendous balance and a knack for finding space between the lines, the PacNW alum recently received his first call-up to the U.S. U-17 men’s national team for the Four Nations Tournament.
Robles was instrumental in the U-17s winning both the GA Cup and USSDA national championship last season, operating as the creative fulcrum that brought the best out of the likes of Azriel Gonzalez, Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez, Marlon Vargas, Ray Serrano and Diaz. In fact, it was Robles who provided the assist on Diaz’s game-winning goal in the Sounders’ 5-1 win over Atlanta United in the DA national final.
In 2016, Robles was named the Player of the Tournament as the Sounders secured the first of their three Youdan Trophy titles. Last season with the U-17s, he racked up 14 goals and 14 assists across all competitions. Robles has one goal and four assists through the first six matches of the 2018-19 season with the U-19s.
“I think Danny’s performance levels, going back to last season through the national championship, have been very high,” said Little. “As an attacking, creative player, if you look at his statistics, he’s leading in many categories across the country — involvement in the build-up to goals, key passes, successful dribbles, etc. — which is extremely important for a No. 10.”
With six players from the U-17 team that won the Youdan Trophy, GA cup, and the USSDA national title now plying their trade with S2, it’s safe to say that the future of the First Team is extremely bright.