Seattle Sounders Academy squads ready for rivalry matches versus Portland Timbers on Jan. 21

Shortly after the Seattle Sounders removed the interim tag from head coach Brian Schmetzer’s title, he sat down with broadcast commentator Matt Johnson to discuss his journey with the club.

As a Seattle native who has been involved with the Sounders in various roles for the last four decades, he understands the unique connection between the club and its supporters better than anyone else.

When asked what the club meant to him, he had this to say: ““The club is the players and their relationship to the fans – that’s the club. We all work for that relationship. The players all do their jobs on the field, the fans support the team... but the club is just the team, it’s the team. The relationship the team has with its fans. That’s what the club is.”

It’s a truly anomalous relationship: two distinct parts working together toward a shared goal. For Sounders Academy players, they are in the unique position where they are both fans and players. They are, in Schmetzer’s words, the club.

Even the oldest players currently in the youth system were just 11-years-old when the Sounders joined MLS, and they’ve grown up with the team. Many of them supported the club back in its USL days -- much like Schmetzer -- while the youngest players on the U-16 team were still learning cursive when Sounders FC joined the top-flight of American soccer.

As members of the Rave Green youth system, they possess the rare opportunity to play for the club they’ve grown up supporting. And with a pair of matches against bitter rivals Portland Timbers on Saturday (U18s play at 1:00 p.m. PT, U16s play at 3:30 p.m. PT), the young Sounders will channel their dual-roles as both fans and players on the field. 

“The boys always enjoy the rivalry matches versus the Timbers,” said Academy Technical Director Marc Nicholls. “The games tend to have an extra bit of spice and are always very competitive.”

“Our groups have been very solid over the course of the season,” he continued. “We are looking forward to our first home game since November”

These regional rivalry games while in the Academy are an important aspect of development, as the exposure to intense competition and quality opposition prepares them for the constructs they will face on a weekly basis as professionals. With two important matches coming up, the Sounders Academy enters the weekend in fine form.

“Our U-16’s have started the new year in good form and our U-18’s have performed reasonably well but have been on a wrong end of a couple of results,” said Nicholls. “We hope that they can get back on track this weekend, but more importantly, we believe that both groups have players for the future!"

There truly are plenty of talented players in the Academy with massive potential. Some of them may one day make the first team, and when they walk onto the field for their first matchup with Portland, they’ll be ready. After all, they’ll have been playing against the Timbers for years.



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