Player Features

Homegrown midfielder Obed Vargas impresses in Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League debut

Obed Vargas sider cover

The Seattle Sounders were without one of their key cogs in central midfield on Thursday night for a crucial away match in Honduras against F.C. Motagua in the Round of 16 in Concacaf Champions League. Reigning MLS Best XI player João Paulo had arrived late to preseason and returned to Seattle from camp in Palm Springs, Calif., to work on his fitness.

The gritty 30-year-old Brazilian is as irreplaceable as they come in MLS, but in his absence stepped up 16-year-old Obed Vargas, who was making only his second start with the First Team. Vargas signed as a Homegrown Player from Alaska this past offseason and was immediately thrown into the lion’s den, starting a road match in Champions League in the center of a 4-2-3-1 alongside veteran Cristian Roldan.

Vargas did more than just eat up minutes. He did yeoman’s work on both sides of the ball, was calm in possession and was a half-second away from nearly opening his scoring account. He helped keep a shutout defensively and sent the Sounders back to Seattle with a scoreless draw in the opening match of the two-legged tie.

“He was tremendous,” Head Coach Brian Schmetzer said of Vargas. “We have a bunch of really talented young players coming through, and Obed is one of them. He earned through his work in preseason a chance to start, and I thought the kid was great.”

Vargas went the full 90 minutes and finished with a 92.2% passing completion rate. This performance wasn’t just a flash in the pan, though. Last summer, he became the third-youngest player in history to compete in an MLS match when he earned an unexpected start against Austin FC due to an Extreme Hardship call-up. He was largely excellent in that road win much like he was on Thursday.

“I’ve seen now for quite a while how good [Vargas] can be,” said goalkeeper Stefan Frei. “He has a good head on his shoulders. That’s the most important thing when I see a young player, a young talent, is someone who still wants to work, someone who wants to get better, someone who doesn’t think they’ve made it yet. I see all the right things there.

“For him to be able to perform today, to contribute in such a big way already in the first game, I’m really happy for him because he deserves it,” Frei continued. “He’s been working hard, and he has a bright future.”

The Sounders head home to Lumen Field next Thursday (7:30 p.m. PT; TUDN | TICKETS) for the return leg of the series. Vargas is certainly a big reason why they are in a strong position to advance to the quarterfinals, and whether he gets another shot next week, he still figures to be very much in the fold for this team the rest of the season and into the future.

“I’ve been pretty consistent that when players are good enough as part of our group, [they’ll play],” said Schmetzer. “[Vargas] has to learn a few other things. There are a few savvy points of the game, his strength, he’s only 16, so he still has a ways to go, but that certainly was a very, very good start for that young man.”

Single Match Tickets Available Now

Single Match Tickets Available Now

Grab your tickets and celebrate our 50th Anniversary Season!

2025 Member Deposits

2025 Member Deposits

Place a deposit at a special rate of only $100 per seat. The earlier you place your deposit, the sooner you will gain access to secure seats for the 2025 season.

3-Match Pack On Sale Now

3-Match Pack On Sale Now

Join us for three big matches this season with a 3-Match Pack, including Decision Day vs the Portland Timbers! Tickets start at $30.