Soccer has taken Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez all over the world.
The kid from Merced, Calif., a city nestled in the San Joaquin Valley roughly 130 miles southeast of San Francisco, has traveled to South America and Europe with United States youth national teams. A top prospect in the Academy, he faced the likes of Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Everton FC, Club America, Club Tijuana, FC Basel and Celtic FC, all before he signed his first professional contract with the Tacoma Defiance.
On Wednesday, he took the first step toward the next phase of his soccer journey, inking a Homegrown contract with the Sounders FC First Team.
“I’m delighted for Alfonso,” said Defiance Head Coach Chris Little, who has coached Ocampo-Chavez with both the U-17s and the Defiance. “This is not the end goal for him. This is the starting point for him to work very hard. He’s still a young, developing player, and he’s a player that we have really high hopes for.
“He’s a natural finisher,” Little continued. “He’s one of those guys who is clever, creative and he can pick up speed when he’s on the dribble. He can play off his left and his right foot. He needs to now consistently prove himself in matches at the USL Championship level and in the training environment with the First Team against established, older professional players. That’s the challenge he needs, and it’ll be exciting to see how he rises up to this opportunity.”
Ocampo-Chavez flew to Seattle to go on trial with the Sounders when he was just 13. He was quickly offered a spot on the U-15 team — he joined the Homestay Program after moving from California — and he hit the ground running, earning his first USYNT call-up within a matter of weeks.
Throughout his time in the Sounders’ youth system, Ocampo-Chavez has consistently risen to the occasion whenever he’s faced a new challenge. He was given an opportunity to play up with the U-17s during Generation adidas Cup qualifying in 2016, and he responded by tallying a goal and an assist against the LA Galaxy in his debut.
“Fonz is an incredibly hard-working striker, and an incredible professional as well,” said Academy Performance Analyst and U-17 Interim Head Coach Ryan Faithfull. “He scored some big goals [at Generation adidas Cup], some late goals, some important goals, and also finished a hat trick against West Ham to kill the game off early. He’s a promising young talent, but he’s still got a lot of work to do.”
Ocampo-Chavez celebrates his game-winning goal against River Plate at GA Cup
A highly technical, two-footed forward with an electric change of pace, Ocampo-Chavez helped the team win prestigious tournaments like the 2017 Youdan Trophy — he won the Golden Boot with eight goals and four assists against the likes of Celtic FC, FC Basel and Everton FC — as well as the 2018 GA Cup Premier Division and 2018 USSDA national championship.
On April 10, 2018, his development and hard work were rewarded with a Defiance contract. During the USL Championship offseason, he played a handful of games with the U-19s, where he bagged eight goals in four appearances.
This week, he’ll commence FIFA World Cup qualifying with the U.S. U-17 national team, with a spot at the 2019 U-17 FIFA World Cup in Brazil on the line.
Like all young players, Ocampo-Chavez still has a way to go if he hopes to make meaningful contributions at the MLS level. But his time playing in the Academy since turning pro indicates that he has the right mentality and work rate to continue developing and evolving as a player.
“We try to hold our players to the highest standards possible,” said U-19 Head Coach Mike Morris. “A positive sign for him was, the last time he played for the U-19s, he not only had a hat trick against the Timbers, he had the most distance covered on the field and the most high-intensity distance running as well, which shows he matched the goals with quantifiable hard work…He’s improved his willingness to initiate contact and battle with center backs, but it’s still a point of his game that needs to continue to increase.”