Academy players train in Tucson with Sounders FC


Sounders U-16 captain Khai Brisco put in a pair of man of the match performances on the road in California. An athletic and intelligent center back, Brisco shut down the Galaxy’s potent attack in a 2-1 victory, and even managed to set-up the game-winning goal. He also anchored the back line in victories over FC Golden State and Portland Timbers. Meanwhile, defensive midfielder Woody Manum has become a vital player for the uber-talented U-16 squad. Manum was the model of consistency in January, and his willingness to do the dirty work in defense combined with his composure in possession made him the perfect conduit between defense and attack.


Captain Sam Rogers, a clever defensive midfielder, and Shandon Hopeau, an inventive and dynamic attacking player, put in solid performances with the U-18s in USSDA league play. Rogers was dominant in the middle of the park against Portland Timbers, while Hopeau sat out the match in order to rehab a minor injury so he could be healthy in time for the start of MLS preseason. Both players impressed the coaching staff during the first week of camp and were invited to continue with the first team in Tucson, Ariz.


Over a dozen Sounders Academy players were called into various U.S. Youth National Teams in 2016, and that trend looks set to continue in the new year. Goalkeeper Trey Muse, left back Jake Morris and right back Stirling Russell were invited to Bradenton, Fla., for the first training camp of the year for the U.S. U-18s. This is the second call-up for both Muse and Russell during their time in the Rave Green youth system, while Morris has appeared for the U.S. U-20s and U-19s since signing in the summer. In addition to the U-18 standouts, goalkeeper Sam Fowler earned his first call-up to the U.S. U-17s this week. A product of the Sounders Discovery Program, the starting keeper for the Sounders U-16 squad has gone from strength to strength this season.


Since the goal of Sounders Academy is to produce players for the first team, the staff prioritizes quality performances over positive results. However, when those two constructs align, like in the U-14s recent 5-0 victory over River Plate SC, it provides an excellent environment for development. Against older opposition in Far West Regional League play, Ray Serrano recorded a hat trick while Ethan Dobbelaere pulled the strings in midfield.


According to head coach Brian Schmetzer, increased integration of the Academy, S2 and the first team is a priority for the club in 2017. As a result, a total of six Sounders Academy players have been given the opportunity to participate in pre-season. During the first week of camp in Seattle, Sam Rogers (U-18) and Shandon Hopeau (U-18) were accompanied by striker Azriel Gonzalez (U-16) and Sam Fowler (U-16). All four players garnered praise from coaches, players and supporters alike.

Rogers, Hopeau and Gonzalez traveled with the first team to Tucson, Ariz., for the second phase of camp. Goalkeeper Trey Muse (U-18) and left back Jake Morris (U-18) joined up with their Academy teammates in Tucson after a stint in camp with the U.S. U-18s. In addition to participating in the daily training sessions, all of the Academy players are eligible to play in upcoming preseason matches.