The Seattle Sounders Academy U-17 and U-19 teams will wrap up the first half of the 2018-19 USSDA season this weekend as they take on some of the top teams in the country at the annual DA Winter Showcase in Saratoga, Fla.
One of the marquee events in the club’s youth programming, the young Sounders will each compete in three matches against teams they typically don’t face in league play.
“It’s always a good challenge at the Winter Showcase,” said U-19 Head Coach Michael Morris. “I’ve done some scouting on our three opponents, and each game should provide a different challenge.”
For the U-19s, the Showcase is an opportunity to maintain the momentum they’ve collected in recent months, as the culmination of the USL season has enabled the team to train and compete with a more consistent group of players. For Morris, the team has consistently hit several of the key performance indicators within their game model, namely sustained possession and building out of the back.
Much like the First Team, the outside backs play an integral role in the team’s style of play. According to Morris, left back Connor Drought and right back Enrique Montana have been standout performers this season. The pair have provided a blend of lockdown defensive play and creating overloads in the attack with their intelligent movement and comfort on possession.
The youth movement continues for the U-17s at the showcase, with Head Coach Chris Little routinely fielding one of the youngest sides in the country, including three young Sounders playing three years up.
“We’ve been pleased with the group, it’s obviously a very young team,” said Little. “We think it’s a bright group for the future and they’ve been progressing well.”
Ranked first in their Generation adidas Cup group, the U-17s hope to use the DA Showcase as a litmus test for evaluating the progress of their young team. While most U-17 teams across the country are comprised almost entirely of players in the 2002 birth year, the Sounders regularly employ a lineup with several 2003s, a couple of 2004s and even one 2005. Such a young squad inherently comes with a bit of a learning curve, so Little is hopeful that the team can demonstrate its growth and progression against a slate of diverse opponents at the Showcase.
Ones to Watch
“[Goalkeepers] Sam Fowler and Bobby Harraka have done a great job in allowing us to play out of the back with their ability to initiate attacks,” said Morris. “Some of our specific game cues when building from the back entail playing through the goalkeeper, and they’ve done very well.”
Fowler makes a save in league play for the U-19s | Quinn Width
“Austin Brummett has come into our group as a 2004 and has done really well as a No. 9 and a No. 10,” said Little. “Eric Kinzner (2003), Angel Martinez (2005), and Nico McMillan (2003) have all done well at center back. Chris Hegartd and Dominic Vegaalban have done well in midfield, and Taka Sasaki (2004) has done really well at left back.”
Next Man Up
Both teams will be without key players at the DA Showcase, as three Academy prospects are competing with the U.S. U-17s at the Nike Friendlies.
Watch the Future
The U-17s’ match against the New England Revolution will be live-streamed on ussoccerda.com.
- Sounders FC U-19 vs. Chargers Soccer Club | 11 a.m. PT, Premier Sports Campus – Field 2
- Sounders FC U-17 vs. Orlando City SC U-17 | 9 a.m. PT, Premier Sports Campus – Field 12
- Sounders FC U-19 vs. New York City FC U-19 | 4:15 p.m. PT, Premier Sports Campus – Field 4
- Sounders FC U-17 vs. Shattuck St. Mary’s U-17 | 10 a.m. PT, Premier Sports Campus – Field 13
- Sounders FC U-19 vs. Philadelphia Union U-19 | 9 a.m. PT, Premier Sports Campus – Field 1
- Sounders FC U-17 vs. New England Revolution U-17 | 11:15 a.m PT, Premier Sports Campus – Field 6