For the second year in a row, Sounders FC 2 center back Sam Rogers has been named to the USL’s 20-Under-20 list, an annual ranking of the top teenage prospects percolating in the American Second Division. Rogers, 19, was awarded the No. 15 spot this season, despite having missed chunks of time through a combination of minor injuries and significant involvement with the U.S. U-20 national team.
“Sam has matured a lot this season,” said Sounders FC Director of Player Development and Academy Director Marc Nicholls. “He’s shown the capacity to learn, develop and lead. I really feel like if he didn’t have a little bad luck with injury, he would’ve continued that development. He’s consistently in the mix now with the U-20 national team and is emerging as a player with high potential for the club.”
Affectionately dubbed “Big Sam” by coaches, teammates and supporters, the Seattle native was ranked fifth in the 2017 20-Under-20 list as he took the league by storm, signing directly with S2 straight out of the Academy. A standout in the youth ranks as a cerebral, technical defensive midfielder, Rogers transitioned to center back in the professional ranks, with the young defender learning on the job as he battled veteran forwards and anchored a youthful S2 back line. He also captained the Academy U-19 side to a third-place finish at the U.S. Soccer Development Academy playoffs.
“He’s just had a really big improvement from when we got him into the Academy to where he is now,” S2 Head Coach John Hutchinson told USLsoccer.com. “Last season was his second season as a center back and you see a big improvement, and this season you also see a lot of improvement, but what helps is that he has been able to train a lot with the first team this season. He’s progressed quickly with having players like Chad Marshall and Román Torres helping him out, he progressed pretty quickly. Sam has done a great job, he’s gone away with the national team, the U20 National Team as well, which is a big deal for the club and for Sam, so you’re seeing him progress really quickly through all the work he needs to do, and in the games, he’s played he’s had a really good season.”
At just 19-years-old, Rogers has already amassed 3,063 minutes of pro soccer under his belt, with the young defender improving each time he’s stepped on the pitch. In recognition of his progress and emerging leadership capabilities, the Academy alum was named Vice Captain by Hutchinson ahead of the 2019 season. With so many standouts from the U-17 team that won the USSDA national championship now under contract with the USL side, Rogers is guiding a new generation of Sounders FC prospects, who all hold hopes of playing for the First Team one day.
Rodrigue Ele, Rogers’ center back partner for much of the last two seasons, was also named to the 20 Under 20 list, coming in at the No. 19 spot.