Marlon Vargas S2 debut 2018-05-17

When the Sounders Academy U-17s won the U.S. Soccer Development Academy national championship earlier this month, Sounders FC General Manager & President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey made it clear that it was an important first step in solidifying the club’s developmental pathway. Phase two, according to Lagerwey, is for the prospects to translate their success at the youth level to USL with Sounders FC 2.


Four of the players who appeared in the national final -- Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez, Ray Serrano, Azriel Gonzalez and Marlon Vargas -- have already signed with S2, making them the most likely candidates to break into the starting XI. But the team’s successful DA title run, and outstanding regular season, revealed the sheer depth of talent percolating in the youth system.


According to S2 Assistant Coach Wade Webber, the USL staff is excited about integrating the U-17s as soon as possible, though it will have to wait until they return from an upcoming international trip.


“When they get back they’ll have a little break because they’ve been going since August,” said Webber. “So it probably won’t be until September until we see them. It’s a short window, but a really important window because these guys are big prospects for us.”

One of the most fascinating developments of the USSDA season was the competition for the No. 9 spot, with both Ocampo-Chavez, a mainstay on the U.S. Youth National Team circuit, and Alec Diaz, who scored averaged a goal every 60 minutes across all competitions, compiling stellar campaigns.


“Alfonso has yet to play this season for us, but he’s a player I’m intrigued to see in USL, playing off the shoulder as a No. 9 and getting in behind,” said Webber. “Diaz is not yet a signed player with S2, but the season he had with the Academy is impossible to ignore. He’s another guy that, at every level he’s played, he’s scored goals.

"Every kid on the roster is a prospect for us:" S2 coaches anticipate more minutes for Sounders Academy players -

“I think those two guys competing with and being mentored by David Estrada is the perfect setting.”


While many of the U-17s will hope to parlay their performances in the DA into training stints or the occasional appearance with S2 as they continue to develop in the youth ranks, one player in particular, Azriel Gonzalez, appears poised to transition into being a full-fledged professional.


“He’s a 2001, so he could play for two more years in the Academy -- that’s how young this group is -- but it’s his second year as a pro and we think it’s a critical time for him to be playing in the USL,” Webber said of Gonzalez. “He’ll be in competition for a starting spot, and he’s in full training with us now.”

Once they return from some time off, Vargas and Serrano will hope to lock down regular spots for S2. The pair have only a handful of USL appearances this season, but should become more integrated into the group as fall rolls around.


After impressing Brian Schmetzer and his coaching staff in a recent training stint with the First Team, midfielders Danny Robles and Josh Atencio could earn some minutes toward the tail-end of the USL season, with the pair likely to become more significant contributors in 2019.


One of the un-signed Academy players from the U-17s who could get some action in the fall is midfielder Peter Kingston.


“We love Pete, and he’s just grown so much in the last 12 months in terms of his influence,” added Webber. “I think he has a really big upside and has flown under the radar. He’s always around the ball, always looks to play, takes a ton of free kicks, and is intelligent about his use of fouls. He’s just a really smart, technical player.”


Regardless of whether or not they make their professional debuts in the 2018 USL season, the entire U-17 pool has turned plenty of heads throughout the club with their tremendous success throughout the 2017-18 DA season.


“Every kid on the roster,” said Webber, “from the bench to the starters, is a prospect for us.”

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