The Seattle Sounders Discovery Program U-14s have advanced to the quarterfinals of the International Champions Cup Futures in Orlando, Fla. After topping a group that included Liverpool FC and a Virginia All-Star team, the young Sounders will take on English Premier League side Chelsea FC on Friday, July 20 (4:30 p.m. PT, live-stream on internationalchampionscup.com and ESPNU).
Of the eight MLS Academy sides that entered the competition, the New York Red Bulls and Seattle were the only teams to advance to the quarterfinals. If the young Sounders advance past Chelsea, they’ll face the winner of Celtic F.C. and Atlético Madrid. The other side of the bracket features Germany’s two biggest clubs, Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich.
“Our aim was to win the group and to qualify for the quarterfinals so we could play against some of the top teams from Europe,” said Head Coach Dan Lock. “That’s what we’re here for, and we’ve held our own. We beat Liverpool and tied Celtic F.C., who’ve done well in the youth version of the Champions League. So we’ve played against two prestigious academies, and we’ve gotten two good performances and two good results.”
The first match against Liverpool featured two sides dedicated to the promotion of young prospects, with each team fielding several 2005s who were playing up a year.
Liverpool broke the deadlock early in the match, but Seattle quickly equalized through Cameron Cruz. Midfielder Antonio Herrera, a 2005, bagged the winner off a clever pass from striker Austin Brummett, who was a starter for the U-15s this season. Brummett then iced the match in the second half, chipping the goalkeeper on a 1-v-1 breakaway.
Seattle Sounders Academy striker Austin Brummett | Quinn Width
Against the Virginia All-Stars, Brummett once again flashed his creativity, playing a no-look, back-heeled through-ball for Herrera, who calmly dispatched his shot into the bottom corner. Brummett, a New Hampshire native and U.S. youth national team stalwart, once again found the back of the net, finishing from a Josh Harden assist.
In the final match of the group stage, which was a cross-over match against Scottish powerhouse Celtic F.C., striker Oscar Rincon, who also played up on the U-15s last season, scored Seattle’s lone goal. Celtic stole a point at the death, though, as they tallied the equalizer with mere seconds remaining in second-half stoppage time.
Although they’ve already demonstrated they can go toe-to-toe with Europe’s best, the young Sounders aren’t satisfied, as they’ve turned their sights toward toppling Chelsea.
“Now we’ve got a real big test,” added Lock. “Chelsea have one of the best academies in England, they regularly win the FA Youth Cup at the U-18/19 level. So, they’ve got a pretty good academy setup, and it’s a big test that we’re looking forward to.”
The Academy staff believes it’s important to expose talented young players to the best competition in the world because it accelerates their development, takes them out of their comfort zone and makes the professional pathway seem more tangible. Having not even played an official league match in the DA, the youngest prospects in the pipeline are already turning heads all over the world.
“It’s great for these boys to play against the likes of Liverpool, Celtic and Chelsea, but also it’s good for the club to play against those clubs and get more international exposure,” said Lock. “A lot of the European coaches have been quite impressed with how the boys have done.”