Academy

Sounders Academy teams prepare to test themselves against top global competition at Generation adidas Cup

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The Sounders Academy U-15 and U-17 teams are off to Bradenton, Fla., to compete in the Generation adidas Cup.

Billed as a showcase for the future stars of the global game, GA Cup pits MLS youth teams against their age-group counterparts from top clubs around the world. This year’s international field includes the likes of PSV, Arsenal FC, Manchester United and Sporting CP.

“We’re always excited about the prospect of testing ourselves against the toughest competition in the league and around the world,” said Director of Development Wade Webber. “We want to use GA Cup as an opportunity to test our youngest talents.”

The Sounders have a rich history with GA Cup. Back in 2019, the Rave Green became the first-ever MLS club to win the top division of the tournament, beating massive international clubs like River Plate, Flamengo, West Ham and Valencia. Following a three-year hiatus due to COVID-19, the Sounders repeated as champions in 2022 by defeating a trio of Liga MX sides in Santos Laguna, CF Monterrey and Tigres UANL.

The U-17’s have been placed in Group H alongside the Columbus Crew, New York City FC and Croatian powerhouse HNK Hajduk Split. The U-15’s will compete against the New York Red Bulls, Houston Dynamo and French club Toulouse FC.

“We see this as an opportunity to challenge our top prospects,” added Webber. “We want to play competitive matches and playing for something.” 

The Academy staff believes that events like GA Cup can be a catalyst for professional development. By going toe-to-toe with the top prospects from the biggest youth systems in the world, the young Sounders will have to elevate their game. 

Past GA Cups have served as a launching point for current First Team players like Josh Atencio, Reed Baker-Whiting, Danny Leyva, and Stuart Hawkins. The 2024 edition of the tournament will provide insights into which players can progress through the club’s professional pathway from the Academy into the First Team.

“If you look at the 2022 GA Cup run, it was a huge breakout for Hawkins,” noted Webber. “He ended up being the MVP of the tournament. We would not have predicted going in that a 2006 playing against 2005’s would have that sort of success. Since then, he’s gone to the U-17 FIFA World Cup and signed with the First Team.”

Players to Watch:

U-15

  • Dima Johnson (GK): Hailing from Hawaii, Johnson is an explosive athlete capable of producing plays that can swing the momentum of a match.
  • Paolo Hurtado (CDM): The son of former Sounder Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Paolo is an intelligent and versatile midfielder who can dictate the rhythm of play. 

U-17

  • Snyder Brunell (CM): The only professional player on the roster, Brunell signed his first contract with the Defiance this past offseason. He played over 1,000 minutes in MLS NEXT Pro with the Defiance last year while still in the Academy.
  • Gallatin Sandnes (CB): A prototypical center back, Sandnes blends defensive instincts with technical skill in possession. The 2008-born defender impressed the First Team staff while training with the group in Spain during preseason.
  • Mo Shour (GK): A young goalkeeper with U.S. Youth National Team experience, Shour is an excellent shot-stopper who can be a match-winner in a tournament setting.
  • Honorable Mentions: Ronan Leeming (CM) and Omar Hassan (FW). Both Leeming and Hassan are 2009’s and will be playing two-years up with the U-17’s at GA Cup. Leeming is an all-action central midfielder who covers a ton of ground, while Hassan is lightning-quick winger who thrives at both attacking and pressing.
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