Academy U16 vs RSL 150324

For Sounders FC, tomorrow’s international friendly against Club Tijuana is an opportunity to compete against a strong opponent ahead of this summer’s CONCACAF Champions League matches. Just hours before the Rave Green kick off against Xolos, though, another squad will get exposure to the same challenge, as the Sounders FC Academy will take on the Club Tijuana Academy on the Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field.

“Just like the First Team, it’s preparing our players for Champions League matches. We’d like to think that’s what we’re doing with our Academy players,” notes Sounders Academy Technical Director Marc Nicholls. “We obviously hope the academy players will one day participate in the Champions League with the First Team. As soon as we can get them in that environment to play, that’s a benefit.”

The scrimmage against Club Tijuana’s Academy side is just one of the many ways Nicholls is helping his teams gain a competitive edge. Just this weekend, four former Academy players appeared in the inaugural match for S2, the organization’s USL team. Developing talent from the Academy’s youngest teams through to the First Team is Nicholls’ ultimate goal.

“We have the same objectives as the First Team,” he says. “We share the vision for Tuesday’s matches.”

That vision focuses on bringing a different style of competition. Club Tijuana, a massive force in Mexico’s Liga MX, provides a challenge to the Sounders FC Academy, which doesn’t see regular competition from outside of the United States.

“We’ve had some experience with foreign opponents, but it’s been quite minimal. There’s an uncertainty about Xolos as well as an anticipation,” says Nicholls.

His squad has been actively preparing for the match, despite not being completely familiar with the team that is on its way to Seattle.

“To be successful, we’re going to have to be really good at what we do. We know every player [Xolos] has is a good one.”

The Sounders FC Academy takes on Xolos Academy before the First Team’s match against Club Tijuana. All match tickets include the Academy matchup, and supporters should enter through the NW gate beginning at 4:00 p.m. PT, with kickoff set for 4:30 p.m. PT.



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