Homegrown Josh Atencio aims to carry momentum into 2024 season

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Homegrown midfielder Josh Atencio has come a long way since signing with the Seattle Sounders First Team in June of 2020.

A player who worked his way through the Sounders pathway beginning at the Academy level is now regarded as a vital piece to the Rave Green’s roster.

“I want to do what I can with the opportunities I can get,” said Atencio. “And if times get hard, I want to be someone that people can look at and think of as a positive example for everybody.”

At only 21-years-old, Atencio has already amassed a wealth of experience. Across all competitions with the Defiance and Sounders FC, the Bellevue native has recorded 128 professional appearances with 7,363 total minutes. Atencio has witnessed two championship runs with the Sounders, the first being the 2019 MLS Cup when he was on the Defiance and most recently the 2022 Concacaf Champions League title when he was on the First Team.

Atencio’s impact on the field has not gone unnoticed over the last three years with the First Team, earning him a contract extension through the 2027 season, with a club option for 2028, and the opportunity to wear the No. 8 jersey for his hometown team.

“I've always wanted to be the 8 for the Sounders,” said Atencio. “That's always been a goal of mine from when I was in the Academy watching the players before me, so it’s honestly a dream come true to get it.”

His growth in the game continues beyond the Sounders and Major League Soccer, as he earned his first call-up to a United States Men’s National Team training camp to compete in a scrimmage against Argentina’s Club Atlético River Plate and a friendly versus Slovenia.

“It was a good experience for him,” said Schmetzer. “He was full of confidence.”

He made sure to represent himself and the Sounders organization well, after tallying a goal in the first match and making his first USMNT cap against the Central European country.

“It was definitely a grind and there were a lot of great players there,” said Atencio. “So, I'm really grateful for that opportunity to start.”

Atencio is coming off a campaign in which he earned 26 appearances, including 14 starts across the regular season and MLS Cup Playoffs and in eight of the squad’s final nine games of the season. In 2023, he racked up 53 tackles, 22 interceptions, 25 blocks, one goal and one assist.

And with the 2024 MLS season on the horizon, he hopes he can bring that same energy as he begins to play a more valuable role for his boyhood club.

“I never thought I would have been wearing a jersey for the USMNT,” said Atencio. “So after getting there and getting a taste of it, it kind of gave me a little boost and made me eager to come back here and do everything I can [for my team].”



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