Khai Brisco U-19 Academy 2018-06-15

The Seattle Sounders Academy U-19s are off to Oceanside, Calif., this weekend to compete in the USSDA playoffs. Qualifying from the Wild Card pool, the young Sounders will square off against Sockers FC of Chicago, Weston FC of Florida and Oakwood SC of Connecticut. Despite being the third-seeded team in Group C, Seattle will fancy its chances of advancing to the quarterfinals due to their fully loaded roster and tactical nous.

For both the U-17 and U-19 divisions, the group stage and quarterfinals will take place at the SoCal Sports Complex from June 18-26, with the semifinals and final occurring at the Swope Soccer Village in Kansas City, Mo., on July 8 and 10, respectively.

Only the top finisher from each group will advance to the quarterfinals.

How They Got Here

Competing in the USSDA Northwest Division, the U-19s finished fourth with a record of 18-11-3. After a strong start to the campaign, the Rave Green’s record did not necessarily reflect their performances in the final months of the regular season. However, the team’s dip in results coincided with the start of the USL season, as a number of players in the squad have been consistent contributors for S2.

The team was rarely able to field a consistent starting group. It should be a worthwhile tradeoff, though, as the core of the team’s prolonged immersion in the professional setup will have them well prepared for the hyper-competitive group stage.

Professional Experience

Through 12 USL matches, the players on the U-19 roster have combined for 1,919 minutes with S2 this season. In S2’s most recent outing, a 2-1 win over OKC Energy FC, Saku Carter and Khai Brisco played every minute at center back, marshalling the back line and dominating OKC’s veteran forward in the air. Meanwhile, attacking midfielder RJ Stretch recorded an assist on S2’s equalizing goal.

Dylan Teves, 17, started the first four matches of the USL season, turning plenty of heads with his ability to ghost past defenders and play line-breaking passes. Jake Morris, a buccaneering left back, has started one match and made two further appearances as a substitute, while midfielder Cam Martin has recorded six interceptions and completed 83.2 percent of his passes in his 226 minutes with S2. Goalkeeper Sam Fowler, a mainstay with the U.S. U-19 national team, has started three matches for S2 in the last year.

Seattle Sounders Academy U-19s hoping professional experience can help secure USSDA title -

Sounders Academy midfielder Dylan Teves stands over a free kick | Quinn Width
Ones to Watch

Midfielder Woody Manum, a Seattle United and SDP alum, is set to play an important role in the playoffs with his high soccer IQ and infectious work rate. Ben Huynh, who has committed to play for Navy next season, will be an impact player who can provide plenty of pace and precision passing from the flanks. Gus Diehl is a versatile, two-way player with a deep understanding of complex tactics, which will be incredibly valuable when the team has to play three games in five days.  

Tactical Flexibility

Throughout the course of the season, the U-19s employed a plethora of formations and tactical setups. As a result, they’re capable of lining up in numerous systems and can tailor complex gameplans for each opponent. With multi-faceted players all over the pitch, look for the young Sounders to trot out intricate defensive and attacking schemes. No matter what formation they line up in, two constants will remain: dogged defending and clinical counterattacking.

Coach’s Take

“When we have a consistent group of players together, and that includes everybody, we are a team with a lot of potential that can achieve a lot together,” said U-19 Head Coach Michael Morris. “The last six months, we’ve learned a lot about ourselves as individuals and as a team. I’ve been pleased with the phases of play and training topics we’ve been able to cover. We have a strong defensive foundation and we’ll be a very pragmatic team. We are a team of guys that love to defend and we have a strong tactical understanding. When we choose the right moments, we are ruthless on the counterattack.”

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