After a year of challenges, the Academy U-15 and U-17 teams are headed to the first annual MLSNext Cup Playoffs and Showcase in Dallas, Texas.
“As we look to complete the Academy season, we are delighted for our teams to head to Dallas for this event,” said Academy Director Gary Lewis. “It will be competitive and will give our players the opportunity to represent the Sounders at the highest level of youth soccer in America.”
With a new playoff bracket format being introduced in this event, the U-17’s fate will be decided after each match. This roster isn’t unfamiliar with the big stage, with recent Tacoma Defiance signings Juan Alvarez and Obed Vargas joining the squad. The core of this group of 05’s won the 2018 Youdan Trophy in England, with Juan Alvarez winning Player of the Tournament.
“It’s been encouraging to see players consistently training with the First Team and gaining valuable minutes in the USL Championship with Tacoma Defiance, " said Lewis. "We have seen changes in their physical and technical profiles and also from a leadership point of view. When they return to train with the Academy, it is clear to see the advances they are making from stepping into the professional environment.”
Sounders U-15’s may not have qualified for playoffs, but they are looking forward to the challenge of the Showcase.
“Our goal is to always challenge the players, to put them in situations where they need to deal with pressure and each regular season game provided that this year," added U-15 Head Coach Brayton Knapp. "The upcoming showcase gives the players the opportunity to not only play in front of national team scouts, but to take the first step in earning a place in next year’s U-17 team.”
The U-15 team is composed of players from the Sounders Discovery Program and a few players from homegrown territories. The Program wasn’t running this past year due to COVID restrictions, but this group has been together long before that.
“Some of the players started as early as U-12 and have participated in a number of events such as Generation Adidas Cup, Truce Tournament, Youdan Trophy and Man City Cup,” Knapp says of his team. “They’ve experienced success in winning the Youdan Trophy, but each event has helped provided the players with an opportunity to grow as a player and person.”
“It has certainly been a difficult year,” said Gary reflecting on the season. I think that's for everyone and certainly with the restrictions in terms of playing competitive games as we entered the inaugural year of the MLS Next Academy League. The staff have been excellent while having to adapt, and the players have contributed to that as well by working hard day after day and dealing with the disappointment of no games at the weekend for many months. It has been difficult for everybody but in reflecting on a very unique season, the way everybody has pulled together at the club has been first class.”
- Friday, June 25th Game 1 vs FC Boston Bolts 12 p.m. PT | Toyota Soccer Center Field 7
- Sunday, June 27th Game 2 vs Weston FC 9 a.m. PT | Toyota Soccer Center Field 17
- Monday, June 28th Game 3 vs Saint Louis FC Academy 9 a.m. PT | MoneyGram Soccer Park Field 7
- Saturday, June 26th Game 1 vs FC Delco 10 a.m. PT | Toyota Soccer Center Field 6
- Sunday, June 27th Game 2 TBD
- Tuesday, June 29th Game 3 TBD
Semifinal scheduled for July 1st, with the Final scheduled for July 3rd at Toyota Stadium.
*Select matches will be live-streamed via MLSsoccer.com. Please follow @SoundersAcademy on Twitter for updates throughout the tournament.