Less than two weeks after Ray Serrano and Josh Atencio were invited to the latest U.S. U-17 camp -- both players received rave reviews for their performances in friendlies against the L.A. Galaxy U-19s and Club Tijuana U-18s -- Sounders youth-team prospects Austin Brummett, Juan Alvarez and Ben Burns were named to the 36-man roster for the U-15s’ week-long camp in Chula Vista, Calif., running from March 4 - 11.
Brummett, a dynamic forward who can play anywhere across the front line, and Alvarez, a fleet-footed attacking midfielder, are full-time members of the Sounders U-15 squad. A pacey winger for Pac NW, Burns has been a regular in the Sounders Discovery Program, which invites the top local players to train twice a week with the Academy coaches, using the Sounders curriculum, while they continue to play matches and practice with their club sides.
While Alvarez joined the Academy full-time a couple of months ago, Brummett has been a revelation for the young Sounders since he signed in the summer, scoring 11 goals from just 15 appearances in USSDA league play.
“It’s great that we’re having an increasing amount of call-ups,” said Sounders FC Director of Player Development and Academy Director Marc Nicholls. “It’s a really positive sign for the direction of our club.”
In the past three years, the Sounders organization has greatly expanded its youth programming, raising the quality of player development in critical age groups which are not yet eligible to join the Academy. In addition to revamping their scouting network, expanding their full-time staff, and sharing training curriculums with partner and affiliate clubs, programs such as SDP have allowed the Academy to identify, accurately evaluate and develop the top talents in the region, providing them a pathway from youth soccer to the professional and international levels.
“It’s an indicator that as we’ve changed our programming, we’re making more informed decisions,” said Nicholls, referring to the bevy of USYNT call-ups. “We get to know the players and parents before we make the full-time selections. It gives us time to scout and to make informed decisions, so it’s a really positive sign.”
The slew of USYNT call-ups in recent months indicate that these programs are beginning to bear fruit.
Back in early 2015, there was only one player in the entire Sounders Academy who had been called-up to a Youth National Team. But throughout the past 18 months, a total of 25 Sounders Academy players, across every age group, have received call-ups to represent the Stars and Stripes.
The full roster for the camp can be found here.