The Seattle Sounders FC Academy U-16 squad returned from the first round of Generation Adidas Cup qualifying with two wins and a draw.
With an eye to the future, the Sounders Academy staff opted for a relatively young squad. A key aspect of player development is exposing top prospects to professional constructs at a younger age, and this largely influenced the roster decisions for GA Cup. The results on the pitch – as well as some spectacular individual performances – fully justified the decision.
Of the 18 players who traveled to Denver, Colo., for the first round, only six were full-time members of the U-16 squad. The remaining 12 were young Sounders with massive potential brought up from the U-14s and U-15s. With 10 goals in three games and two clean sheets defensively, the kids stepped up.
“It was a good week of learning and the boys performed very well in five of the six halves,” said Academy Director Marc Nicholls. “The standard of play was high and the environment was second to none.”
With the exception of the first half against the LA Galaxy – Seattle trailed 4-0 at the break – the Rave Green dominated proceedings all weekend. In fact, the young stars of the youth system dragged Seattle back into the LA match.
Striker Alfonso Ocampo Chavez (U-14) scored 15 minutes into the second half against the Galaxy on a beautiful pass from defensive midfielder Josh Atencio (U-14). Ocampo Chavez then turned provider when he set up Youdan Trophy MVP Danny Robles (U-14) for a thunderous goal just five minutes later.
The young Sounders then recorded a pair of 4-0 wins over the San Jose Earthquakes and Portland Timbers. Winger Dylan Teves (U-15) combined with Ocampo Chavez to set up Ray Serrano (U-14) for the opening goal. Teves then put Ocampo Chavez through on goal with a slide-rule pass for the second strike of the afternoon. Serrano completed his brace just before the half, and Teves rounded out the scoring in the 71st minute.
Despite some fantastic play in the first two matches, Ocampo Chavez truly saved his best performance for the last game against the rival Timbers. The young striker tallied a hat trick with three diverse, and equally impressive, strikes. On top of the goals, his intelligent movement and link-up play all afternoon appeared befitting of a player twice his age. Meanwhile, fellow forward prospect, Azriel Gonzalez, recorded a goal and two assists against the Timbers.
Ocampo Chavez tallied five goals and three assists across three games, despite facing against defenders two years his senior.
At a showcase event such as this, success can be defined by two metrics: team and individual performances. For the Sounders, the weekend was a resounding achievement on both mandates.
As a team, the Rave Green played progressive and attractive soccer for a majority of the weekend. From an individual perspective, the top prospects from the U-14 and U-15 squads ran riot against older opposition from some of the best youth teams in MLS.
If the young Sounders can apply the lessons learned at GA Cup in order to continue their development in USSDA league play, then the future is truly bright in Seattle.