The U-15 and U-17 Sounders Academy teams are headed to the Generation adidas Cup this weekend. Billed as the premier youth competition and North America, the GA Cup serves as a showcase for the future stars of Major League Soccer. Here is everything you need to know:
WHEN AND WHERE: GA Cup will run from April 1-9 at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
WHERE TO WATCH: Select matches will be available on MLS Season Pass on the Apple TV app — stay tuned on Sounders Academy social accounts for updates.
2023 RECORDS AND STANDINGS: U-17 Academy: 4-6-1 (13 points, 5th West), U-15 Academy: 5-3-3 (18 points, 4th West)
TOURNAMENT STRUCTURE: 40 teams from each age group will be separated into 10 groups of four, where they will play three group matches. From there, a total of 16 teams move on to the knockout rounds while the remaining teams play the rest of their games in the showcase format of the tournament. Every team is guaranteed seven matches over the course of the week.
HISTORY OF SUCCESS: The young Sounders have historically been contenders in the GA Cup after winning the title three straight years. 2018 was the Academy’s first year taking the title in the lower Premier Division and continued to have success in 2019 and 2022, defeating top clubs like West Ham United FC, River Plate, Flamengo and CF Monterrey in the top-flight Champions Division.
INTERNATIONAL EXPOSURE: The Seattle Sounders U-17 and U-15 teams have the chance to compete against some of the top clubs from around the world. By going up against clubs with different playing styles, it will help prepare the players for First Team experiences such as the FIFA Club World Cup and Concacaf Champions League. Both teams face challenging opponents in the group stage this year, with the U-15’s going head-to-head against Arsenal FC (MLS Season Pass on Apple TV in their first game. This year’s tournament field includes the likes of Palmeiras, Manchester United, Real Madrid, and Chelsea.
SHOWCASE FOR FUTURE STARS: Not only is the GA Cup an opportunity to play in front of scouts and fans from around the world, it is also a chance for those in the Sounders Academy to showcase themselves for future opportunities within the club. Players like Josh Atencio, Danny Leyva, Ethan Dobbeleare and Reed Baker-Whiting were all a part of GA Cup winning teams and eventually made their way up to the First Team.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
- Mohammed Shour: The goalkeeper made a lasting impression during his tenure on the U15’s during the 2021-2022 season and continues to show out this year on the U-17’s as well. His presence in goal is undeniable with his ability to make difficult saves, his dominant demeanor in the penalty box and his overall calmness with the ball at his feet.
- Chris Aquino: A key member of last year’s GA Cup winning squad, Aquino brings a wealth of experience to this young group. As he showed in 2022, he can produce moments of magic to win you a match with a long-distance strike or a run to set up a teammate.
- Stuart Hawkins: The reigning GA Cup Player of the Tournament, Hawkins provides a defensive foundation for the group. A professional player with Tacoma Defiance and regular starter for the U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team, Hawkins is in a position to help lead this team on another GA Cup run.
- Sebastian Gomez: Clever on the ball with excellent vision, Gomez is definitely one to watch with the U-17’s this week. Gomez has impressed the First Team coaching staff in recent training stints, even earning some praise from Head Coach Brian Schmetzer.
- Abad Vargas: The winger plays a more direct style of soccer while also being capable of beating players 1v1 on the dribble and in the air. He’s created a lot of goalscoring opportunities for his team this season with his ability to attack the box efficiently.
- Gallatin Sandnes: The center-back is recognized as a captain and overall leader of the team. His hard-work and competitive spirit has given him the opportunity to train with Tacoma Defiance this Spring and play with the U-17’s from time-to-time.
- Kelvin-Luis Brito: The attacking player has been involved with the majority of goals this year and is the leading goal-scorer of the team. His coaches and teammates look for him when it comes to being creative, influential, and sparking the attack on the pitch.
- Paolo Hurtado Martinez: The center midfielder helps the team connect the game with his ability to receive and play in tight areas. Defensively, he has an eye for a tackle and disrupting the opponent's attack.