Sounders FC Academy preparing for first round of Generation Adidas Cup qualifying

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The Sounders FC Academy is off to Denver, Colo., for the first round of qualifying in the Generation Adidas Cup. The annual showcase serves as the premier tournament for MLS U-16 Academy teams.

After two rounds of qualifying – the first in October and the second in February – the six MLS sides with the best records will advance to the Championship Division in March, where they are paired with six top international Academy squads. The remaining MLS teams qualify for the Premier Division where they will also square off against youth teams from some of the most storied clubs in the world. Last year’s edition of the GA Cup featured international sides Valencia, River Plate, Villarreal and the Mexico U-17 national team.

As the Sounders embark on the year-long qualifying process this weekend, they do so with a relatively young squad. The 18-man roster for Seattle is composed of six players from the U-14s, six from the U-15s and a further six from the U-16s. Despite the even distribution of players among the three teams, the exact composition was by no means intentional.

So, why did the Sounders Academy staff decide to bring along such a youthful squad? The answer is deeply embedded in the Rave Green’s philosophy of prioritizing developing top talent in the long term over winning results in the short term.

The GA Cup is a top-class atmosphere in every facet of the tournament. As a result, player development drove the squad selection. The staff feels it is absolutely vital to promote and expose the most talented young players in the club to a professional environment at an early age.

On top of the quality facilities and competition, the Sounders are understandably excited about the resources provided to every team. At the tournament, each club will receive extensive advanced metrics on each player from Opta, the official provider of statistics for MLS, as well as world-class video analysis from each game.

These large samples of data will inform future decisions on player development strategies for some of the club’s premier prospects. This data can reveal so much about each player’s strengths and weaknesses that the Academy felt it vital to collect it for some of the top young Sounders.

Another reason Sounders Academy decided to bring along the top young talent is the exposure to national team staff. With all of the top talents in MLS on display at the tournament, there are countless national team scouts in attendance.

“What we hope will come out of this event is more of our young players to get more involved in the national team,” said Academy Director Marc Nicholls. “Playing for the national team against the best youth players in the world is a huge part in developing future first team players.”

The Sounders have certainly used the GA Cup in the past to catapult some of the top youth team players into the international setup. After an impressive first round of qualifying last year, three players on this year’s U-18 squad – Kei Tomozawa, Stirling Russell and Sam Rogers – got called into the U-18 national team. Right back Ben Huynh performed so well that he was invited into the U-17 national team residency program for the spring.

“We’ve decided to promote these young players because it’s all about the development of bright talent,” Nicholls said. “This isn’t a gamble because these young players are extremely talented. It’s about investing in some of these guys by exposing them to that next level.”

The full schedule of Sounders matches is provided below. Some matches may be streamed on

Friday, Oct 7th

Sounders vs. LA Galaxy

11:30 a.m. PT

Saturday, Oct 8th

Sounders vs. San Jose Earthquakes

11:30 a.m. PT

Monday, Oct 10th

Sounders vs. Portland Timbers

8 a.m. PT



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