Seattle Sounders Homegrown Player Obed Vargas returned to the Rave Green after turning plenty of heads with the United States in the 2023 U-20 FIFA World Cup in Argentina.
“I was able to play a lot of international opponents, different types of players, different intensity,” said Vargas. “That kind of gives me an awareness of where I'm at in my career and where I'm playing.”
From beginning his soccer journey in Anchorage, Alaska, moving states at a young age to partake in every level of the Sounders pathway, to now representing the U.S. at a major international tournament, Vargas has already amassed an impressive resumé at only 17-years-old.
While he’s grown as a player through the Sounders organization, his experience competing amongst the best players from around the world has elevated his game to the next level.
“I was playing a cycle up, and so I just really think I built confidence there,” said Vargas. “Knowing that I was playing against top players, and I was able to compete.”
But it’s been his mentality day-in and day-out, in training and in matches, that’s given Vargas the opportunity to compete for the U.S. in the top tournament in the world.
“His learning capacity has always been exceptionally high, and I think that is something that has carried him toward an accelerated development for sure, as a 2005 in the U-20 World Cup, that’s two years up in the age group,” said Vice President of Player Development Henry Brauner.
Brauner is optimistic Vargas’ mindset will push him to even further heights in his future professional endeavors.
“He’s put in all the work, he's listened to the coaches, he's dealt with the setbacks and injuries very well and he's come back stronger, and I think again, it's a credit to that mentality and that focus that he has,” he added.
Vargas’ future is bright, but for now, he’s focused on improving one game at a time.
“In just talking to him after the game that they lost to Uruguay, I was asking him, ‘how do you feel, do you want a couple days off?’ And he just said, ‘I want to get back, I want to play, I want to be available for Charlotte,’ without even wasting a breath,” said Brauner. “He knows what he wants… It's very clear for him, and he’ll take every moment he gets and run with it.”
As Vargas returns to MLS competition, he hopes he can translate his experiences with the U-20’s into his responsibilities with the Sounders.
“My role was different [with the U-20’s]...I was able to get higher up the pitch,” said Vargas. “I think I was more influential in the final third, and that's something I would like to replicate here.”
The Alaska native continues to impress with his efforts on the pitch, and his coaches hope his achievements will inspire other younger players in the club’s system to share the same ambitions and work ethic to do the same.
“It’s a clear reference point,” said Brauner. “Now, we can start to connect the dots looking backwards on his pathway, and that will help not only the younger players in our Academy right now get to the levels that he's been able to get to, but it's also going to help guide us on where we need to look for players, where players might come from, even if it seems like it's not a talent density rich environment, such as Anchorage.”