Sounders Academy teams set to take on rival Portland Timbers

Academy set to face Portland Timbers

All three Sounders Academy squads will head south down I-5 for a series of Cascadia derby matches against the Portland Timbers. The young Sounders will look to parlay their strong showings at the recent Generation adidas Cup into a successful weekend against their bitter foes.

“It’s a rivalry game, and the games against the Timbers are always difficult, no matter how well either team is doing,” said U-15 Head Coach Sean Henderson. “It’s also a quick turnaround for us, and it’s always a battle against the Timbers.”

In the previous meetings between these two sides, the young Sounders garnered some impressive results, winning two matches and drawing the third. But more important than the results on the pitch is the significance off it, as it prepares the boys that will make their way through the pipeline up to S2 and the First Team. For many of the Academy players, who grew up supporting the Sounders, they hold a deep understanding of the historic nature of this rivalry.

“There’s no need as an academy staff to motivate these players for big games, especially against the Timbers,” said Henderson. “There’s this rivalry and history, and they see it and feel it. They don’t need a coach to tell them; it’s already ingrained in them.”

Many of the players were just young kids when the MLS iteration of the Sounders launched back in 2009. They’ve grown up as fans, and now that they’re representatives of the club, they’re sewing the seeds of this rivalry at the professional level for years to come. Some of them will one day play on the First Team, and when they do, they can draw upon their experiences in these Cascadia matches.

An integral aspect of developing professional players is to immerse young prospects in a professional environment, which includes plenty of travel and quick turnarounds. With that in mind, Henderson draws the comparison between the Academy sides competing in GA Cup and subsequently playing away matches in Portland to the First Team’s travels in CONCACAF Champions League.

“As much as we can, we try to mirror what the First Team players have to go through,” he said. “We want to prepare them for when you have to go to El Salvador and play in difficult conditions. We don’t want a player who comes through our academy to have to experience something like that for the first time when he’s with the First Team.”

The rivalry between the Sounders and Timbers dates back decades. But for the young Sounders in the Academy, this weekend’s matches present an opportunity to shape the Cascadia derby for years to come.



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