Two of the top prospects in the Sounders pipeline, forwards Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez and Ray Serrano, returned to Seattle this week after a recent stint with the U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team. In preparation for the upcoming U-17 World Cup Qualification process, the young Yanks ventured to Costa Rica for a series of matches against the Mexico U-17s and Costa Rica U-17s, playing each nation twice.
With the opportunity to represent the Stars & Stripes at a World Cup looming over the horizon, Serrano and Ocampo-Chavez, both of whom are full-fledged professionals with Sounders FC 2, compiled a strong case for future inclusion ahead of the Qualifiers.
“I feel like I made a good impact with the team,” said Ocampo-Chavez. “I feel like our chemistry as a team has been getting better and better since the Nike Friendlies. I think we were the better team all four games.”
In the first match against Mexico, Ocampo-Chavez scored the lone goal in a 1-0 win for the United States. The young forward drifted out wide to receive a through-ball down the right-hand channel and quickly dispatched a shot past the goalkeeper at the near post. Serrano, who plays out wide for the United States, also started the match as he provided his usual creativity and flair on the wings.
With two matches each against Costa Rica and Mexico, the U.S. U-17s heavily rotated the squad for all matches. However, both Serrano and Ocampo-Chavez earned two starts and made the most of their opportunities, which is critical for future inclusion as the U.S. staff begins to whittle down the player pool ahead of World Cup qualification.
In the match against Los Ticos, Serrano registered an assist on the opening goal as he glided past his defender and lofted an inch-perfect cross into the box, which was headed in by Diego Lopez. Against Mexico in the final match, Ocampo-Chavez scored the lone goal in a 2-1 loss. Midfielder Kobe Hernandez drove to the byline and picked out the clever run from the S2 forward, who calmly guided his effort past the goalkeeper.
According to Ocampo-Chavez, having Serrano, a teammate and friend of his in the Academy, has helped ease the pressure on the pair as the maky their case for inclusion in the U-17 World Cup Qualification process.
“He knows how I play and I know how he plays,” he said, “So we when go on these trips, it’s easier for both of us to connect on the field.”
Serrano and Ocampo-Chavez have yet to be fully integrated with S2 this season, with the pair playing pivotal roles in the U-17s national title run. Heading into the fall, the young prospects are likely to feature more prominently. Spurred on by their strong showings for both club and country in recent months, Serrano and Ocampo-Chavez should enter the S2 fold in fine form.