061515 Tosh Youth Story

Three months into its inaugural season, Sounders FC 2 has already made a strong statement both in the USL and beyond. Currently in second place in the USL Western Conference and through two rounds of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup - the only remaining MLS-fielded team left in the competition - Head Coach Ezra Hendrickson has put together a team as formidable as they come with an average roster age hovering around a mere 20 years old.

“We are really proud of the way our young guys have stepped up to play this season,” said Hendrickson. “With extra matches to play because of the Open Cup, we are glad to see some of our Academy guys able to play in a professional environment with S2.”

In fact, so far this season more than 10 players 19 years old or younger have been on the S2 roster in either Open Cup or USL play, with a high of seven sub-20s starting in a single match for the Rave Green. However, age doesn’t seem to be a factor in the team’s success.

With a bulk of minutes for the young players coming in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the youngsters have only allowed three goals in two matches and directly contributed to four of the six goals in the first two rounds. Now, with two Open Cup matches under their belts, the group has earned the chance to face MLS side Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium, a park with a capacity of just over 20,000.

One of twelve USL teams to advance to the Fourth Round, S2 is the only MLS-fielded team to remain in the tournament. Despite many of them just graduating from high school, the young Sounders are ready to play in front of one of the largest crowds of their young careers.

“This is an opportunity of a lifetime for these kids,” added Hendrickson. “Not many players that age get a chance to play at that level, and they have earned it with the way they have played.”

With the exception of a handful of players, Tuesday’s match will be the first for many on S2 to face an MLS squad in a competitive match.

“The chance to play at this level is what we have been fighting for at the beginning of this tournament,” said S2 forward Andy Craven. “Everybody is on board, and we are excited to test ourselves against RSL.”

S2 kicks off at Rio Tinto on Tuesday, May 16 at 7:00 p.m. PT. The match will be live-streamed on SoundersFC.com.



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