Sounders Academy teams prepare for MLS NEXT Flex event


The Sounders Academy U-15 and U-17 squads are heading to Maryland this weekend for the MLS NEXT Flex event, where they will face off against some of the top youth teams from around the country.

The stakes are high for the young Sounders as both teams enter the weekend needing to win their groups to qualify for playoffs. It’s the kind of high-stakes scenario the Academy staff feel will help accelerate development for their top prospects and prepare them for the next level.

“These competitions are a valuable tool within the players’ developmental pathway to help us prepare players for the professional environment,” said U-15 head coach Brayton Knapp. “Going into the event they must learn to deal with different emotions such as pressure and expectations.

Sounders Academy has a rich history of success at the youth level, winning the 2018-19 USSDA National Championship as well as back-to-back Generation adidas Cup titles against the top clubs in the world.

A cornerstone of the Academy’s success has been their willingness to consistently challenge top prospects by playing them up an age group or immersing them in a professional environment with the Defiance and First Team. The U-15’s and U-17’s have been utilizing that approach ahead of the MLS NEXT Flex event this weekend.

“After GA Cup, for us is that stage of the season in which we see often players moving up to Defiance and First Team for training purposes,” said U-17 head coach Xavi Bravo. “This is an exciting part of the season for the development of our young talents as they get exposed to great field experiences training with professional players.”

Knapp echoed those sentiments, also noting that players who aren’t moved up still benefit from taking on a greater share of responsibility within their group.

“This is a busy time of year in terms of player movement within the developmental pathway and we have had some great opportunities for our U-15 players to train and play with the U-17 age group,” he said. “These opportunities present unique challenges for the players and the lessons they learn playing against older, more experienced players is invaluable for their development. Those players who have remained with the U-15’s are also challenged to maintain the level of competition at training, and it provides an opportunity for some to showcase why they should be in contention for the next opportunity to train up.”

Players to Watch:


  • Mo Shour: A standout goalkeeper for both club and country, Shour has been training regularly with the Defiance and put in several high-level performances at GA Cup.
  • Etienne Veillard: One of the more senior players on the squad, Veillard is in his second season with the U-17’s. He brings composure, leadership and an attacking skillset to the young Sounders at outside back.
  • Kelvin-Luis Brito: Another player who has been training with the Defiance, Brito is an attacking midfielder who thrives at finding space between the lines and unlocking the opposing defense.
  • Ronan Leeming: The youngest player on the team, Leeming is a U-15 who impressed with the U-17’s while playing up during GA Cup and has earned more opportunities with the older team.


  • Duncan Green: A dominant defender in his second year with the U-15’s, Green is a center back capable of shutting down opposing attackers.
  • Paolo Hurtado: The son of former Sounder Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Paolo is a leader on the squad who drives the team forward in possession.
  • Callum Lyons: A versatile strker capable of creating chances for himself and others, Lyons will be pivotal to the team’s success in Maryland.
  • Dmitry Johnson: Hailing from Hawaii, Johnson is another standout goalkeeping prospect in Seattle’s pipeline who brings plenty of bravery, agility and a calming

Match Schedule

May 11

  • Sounders U-17 vs. New England Revolution U-17 (9:00 a.m. ET; Maryland SoccerPlex – Field 7)
  • Sounders U-15 vs. St. Louis Scott Gallagher U-15 (1:00 p.m. ET; Maryland SoccerPlex – Field 22)

May 12

  • Sounders U-17 vs. St. Louis CITY SC U-17 (9:00 a.m. ET; Maryland SoccerPlex – Field 8)
  • Sounders U-15 vs. Bethesda SC U-15 (3:00 p.m. ET; Maryland SoccerPlex – Field 21)

May 14

  • Sounders U-17 vs. Southern Soccer Academy U-17 (1:00 p.m. ET; Maryland SoccerPlex – Field 9)
  • Sounders U-15 vs. Murrieta Soccer Academy U-15 (8:30 A.M. et; Maryland Soccerplex – Field 16)


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