The Sounders FC Academy U-14s opened up the 2017 Manchester City Cup Super Group International U-15 division in San Diego, Calif., with a thrilling 3-2 victory over the Man City. The tournament field is comprised of both domestic and international youth sides, featuring the likes of Club America, LA Galaxy and Tottenham Hotspur.
Head Coach Sean Henderson selected a starting XI capable of taking the match to the Mancunians, and his strategy paid off. Goals from midfielder Josh Atencio and striker Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez handed the Rave Green a 2-0 lead inside 15 minutes. Manchester City leveled the score with two quick goals to start the second period, and the score remained tied until the final minute of the match. Center back Liam Elliot capitalized on several miscued clearances from a corner kick and tapped home the game winner in the 79th minute.
The Sounders will face Pateadores tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. PT while the knockout rounds will commence on May 28.
The Seattle Sounders Academy went unbeaten at the weekend with three matches against local clubs. The U-16s and U-18s squared off against in-state rivals Crossfire Premier, with the former battling to a draw and the latter taking all three points in commanding fashion.
With league play all wrapped up, the U-15s played a friendly against Pac NW, a local youth-affiliate, and ran out 4-0 winners.
- Sounders FC 2 vs. Crossfire Premier 0 (5/20/17)
- Sounders FC 1 vs. Crossfire Premier 1 (5/20/17)
- Sounders FC 4 vs. Pac NW U-18 0 (5/20/17)
With just two matches remaining in the USSDA regular season, the U-18s found themselves in a must-win match against Crossfire. The young Sounders entered the match in a fine run of form, with victories over the likes of Portland Timbers and Sacramento Republic in recent weeks.
Sitting just outside of the guaranteed playoff spots, the Rave Green needed to collect maximum points against Crossfire. The Rave Green nearly found the opener just before half-time, when an 11-pass sequence ended in a goal, only for the strike to be called back for offside. With so much on the line, the young Sounders ratcheted up the pressure to begin the second period and found a breakthrough in the 61st minute.
After a lovely bit of build-up play in midfield, right back Stirling Russell burst down the right flank and whipped in an inch-perfect cross for striker Greg Sutton to slot home first time. Dylan Teves, playing up from the U-16s, put the match to bed just five-minutes later when he latched onto the end of a clever split-pass from Kei Tomozawa. Teves’ first touch rounded his marker, and the second was a deft chip over the onrushing goalkeeper and into the back of the net.
Later that day, the U-16s faced the same opponent but were unable to find a match-winning goal. Despite dominating possession in the first half, the young Sounders were unable to carve out many clear-cut chances. The tides turned in the second half, as Crossfire began to dictate the tempo of the match, and it paid off in the 72nd minute when they took the lead courtesy of a well-placed header.
A clever substitution from U-16 Head Coach Chris Little saw the Rave Green draw level within a matter of minutes. In search of an equalizer, Little brought on U-14 midfielder Ray Serrano to wrestle back control of the match. Serrano, a dynamic attacking midfielder with a penchant for scoring goals, secured a draw in the 78th minute with a composed finish inside the box.
- Sounders FC U-18 vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-18 (5:00 p.m. PT, Starfire Sports)
- Sounders FC U-16 vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-16 (7:30 p.m. PT, Starfire Sports)
Neil Boyal, a No. 6 for the U-18s, put in a man-of-the-match performance against Crossfire with the playoffs on the line. Up against a big, physical and direct opponent, Boyal shielded the Rave Green defense and snuffed out any dangerous attacks.
Peter Kingston put in a quality display for the U-15s playing against opponents three years his senior. Kingston opened the scoring in the 7th minute off of a clever 1-2 with Ethan O’Brien that put him through on goal. He also assisted the third goal, shortly after half time, with a clever through ball for Jesus Jeronimo.
One To Watch
Sota Kitahara has been making plenty of waves since joining the Sounders’ youth system. Kitahara, a defensive midfielder signed from youth-affiliate Seattle United, started out in the Sounders Discovery Program but was quickly moved up to the U-14s. After putting in plenty of promising displays for Head Coach Sean Henderson’s side, Kitahara has been featuring for the U-15s and U-16s regularly in the past two months.
Both the U-16s and U-18s will wrap up their regular seasons on Wednesday, May 31, against Cascadia rivals, the Vancouver Whitecaps. The U-18s can lock up second place in the Northwest Division with a win, while the U-16s can leapfrog Crossfire and Vancouver into first place if they win by 2+ goals.