Three players from Seattle Sounders Academy — S2 center back Sam Rogers, U-19 goalkeeper Sam Fowler and U-19 defender Khai Brisco — have been called up to the United States U-20 and U-19 men’s national teams for the 2018 U-20 Men’s Invitational Tournament at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., running from Sept. 7-11. Venezuela and Jamaica’s U-20 national teams will also compete in the round-robin style event.
“I don’t think there’s a surprise there with Sam Fowler and Sam Rogers,” said Sounders FC Director of Player Development Marc Nicholls. “I think that the story here is the call-up for Khai, who I feel like has been pushing, knocking on the door for a few seasons now. I’m really happy for him that he’s gotten his chance as I feel it’s one that is fully deserved.”
All three players have been in the Sounders’ youth system since the U-14 level, though Rogers is the only full-fledged professional of the trio, as he signed with the club’s USL outfit, S2, in June of 2017. His commanding performances in USL have made him a regular in Head Coach Tab Ramos’ U-20 team ahead of World Cup qualifying, earning call-ups to every domestic and international event of the new U-20 cycle. Fowler has become a consistent fixture of the U-19 national team as well, while this is the first USYNT call-up for Brisco. An intelligent, imposing presence at the back, Brisco has been named to the USSDA Western Conference Best XI each of the last two seasons.
“The three of them have been in our programming the maximum amount of time, so it’s great to see them develop and get called in during different times,” said Nicholls. “Sam Rogers was in once [in 2016] and out for a while and then back in. Fowler came a bit later and has now stuck in with the group. And for Khai, it’s his first experience. That’s sends a message to all of the boys in the Academy.”
The call-ups are also symbolic of the club’s commitment to vertical integration, as all three players have consistently trained with the First Team and played for S2 in USL matches throughout the last couple of years. Brisco, 17, has already appeared in 15 professional matches with S2, including 12 starts, since 2017, while Fowler has four starts in the past two seasons. Rogers, 19, has already amassed 3,028 minutes in USL, as well as two starts for the First Team in U.S. Open Cup, establishing him as one of the top prospects in the league.
“It’s a really positive thing for them to gain exposure with S2, and anyone who saw Khai play this Sunday would know that he was a contender for man of the match with S2,” added Nicholls. “Playing at the highest standard week-in, week-out, it’s obviously going to help the boys.”
You can read the full roster and programming for the camp here.