After a successful group stage, the U-15 and U-17 Sounders Academy teams are headed to the knockout rounds of the Generation adidas Cup where they will be one step closer to taking home another title.
“I think it's tremendous for the club with the effort the players and the staff put in every day to be rewarded with the results that we're able to turn,” said U-15 head coach Brayton Knapp. “I think we always want the players to be successful, especially when we come to these events, and so for them to take those steps and both advance is great for the club.”
Both teams managed to finish first in their group, with massive shutout wins against Arsenal FC (U-15) and Chicago Fire FC (U-17).
The comradery within the teams played a major role in the club’s ability to push both age groups to the knockout rounds.
“A lot of it has to do with the togetherness that they show and their willingness to fight for each other,” said Knapp. “Obviously, there's some individual moments which are key in that, but you know, as a collective, they have a mindset that they want to be tough to play against and that's something that we try to instill in them.”
The U-15 squad will kick off Round of 16 play April 5 at 6 a.m. PT against Orlando City SC, a team that placed second in their group behind MLS side Houston Dynamo FC. The U-17’s will go head-to-head against Mexican club Atlas FC at 11:30 PT, a team that also finished second underneath Midwest club Sporting Kansas City.
Knapp said a “collaborative effort” is necessary for any team to make it far into the playoffs and eventually the championship game.
“Players [will need] to take on different roles and step up in different moments,” he said. “It will take a little bit of luck at times, it'll take a belief within the group [and] that ability to recover, the ability to play at their best, regardless of the elements, is going to be one of the keys.”