Academy

Sounders on Campus: Sounders Academy alums square off at Husky Stadium

Seyi Adekoya

Thursday night’s Pac-12 match between the University of Washington and UCLA had an increased air of importance beyond the conference standings.


In front of a packed crowd at Husky Soccer Stadium, UCLA starlet and Sounders Academy product, Seyi Adekoya, returned to the Northwest to face off against his former Academy teammate, Henry Wingo.


Wingo wasn’t the only former Rave Green youth team product in the starting XI for the Huskies; freshman phenom Handwalla Bwana featured at left midfield. Adekoya lined up at left wing for the Bruins, while Wingo anchored the Huskies midfield in a deep-lying playmaker role.


With so much local talent on display, the clash promised to be an exciting affair.


It did not disappoint.


Just over a minute into the match, Wingo handed the Huskies a 1-0 lead with his first goal of the campaign.


After the Bruins failed to properly clear a cross into the box, Wingo needed just two touches to open the scoring. The first settled the ball out of the air and the second was a thunderous side-volley into the bottom corner.

“We came out with a lot of energy,” said Wingo. “But scoring that early gave us an even bigger boost and it helped push us through the rest of the match.”


The remainder of the game was a showcase for the three Sounders Academy products.


Every single Bruins attack in the first fifteen minutes came through the feet of Adekoya. His blend of speed, dribbling ability and physicality posed problems for the Huskies defense all evening. So much so, in fact, that he could have had two assists and a goal by the 20th minute if not for some last ditch defending.


“He [Adekoya] is an incredible player, I’ve played with him my whole life” remarked Wingo after the match. “He’s one of their most dangerous guys so every time he gets the ball you’re worried.”


Wingo played a large part in keeping his former Academy teammate quiet, consistently sliding across to help on defense when Adekoya tried to cut infield.


In a fast-paced, counter-attacking and overtly physical match, the technical ability of both Bwana and Wingo made the difference for the Huskies.



The pair were easily the most technical players on the pitch and possessed an unparalleled level of composure on the ball.


“When you play in Sounders Academy all you are taught is how to play good, technical soccer,” Bwana said of his combinations with Wingo. “Both of us are technical so we know we can trust each other in possession.”


There were seven or eight instances throughout the match where Bwana broke free from a pair of defenders with an inventive turn or a slipped pass. Some of the most mesmerizing combination play in possession came from quick interchanges between Bwana and Wingo in midfield.


Wingo was easily the classiest midfielder on the pitch. On the defensive side, his ability to boss the midfield led to five interceptions and six tackles won. Operating as the midfield fulcrum, Wingo shielded the back four before quickly restarting the attacks in a style reminiscent of Osvaldo Alonso.



Bwana was largely restricted to focusing defensive duties, although he could have had three or four assists if not for individual heroics from the Bruins’ goalkeeper.


Bwana’s best moment of the match came when he found a pocket of space in between UCLA’s midfield and back line. He received the ball on the half-turn, shifted it out of his feet and unleashed a swerving effort from 35 yards. The stadium fell silent as the shot seemed to knuckle toward the top corner, but it ultimately clipped the crossbar and went out for a goal kick.


Adekoya nearly set up an equalizer on several instances with individual moments of magic down the left flank. However, poor finishing from teammates meant the chances he created were wasted.


Ultimately, Wingo and Bwana walked away from the matchup with the crucial three points. With the result, the Huskies are one step closer to their ultimate goal of a Pac-12 title. 

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