Sounders Academy has made massive strides throughout the past four years, and members of the media are beginning to take notice.
On the latest episode of the TopDrawerSoccer Show podcast – a joint venture between the Total Soccer Show and TopDrawerSoccer.com – the hosts listed the top 10 reasons to be optimistic about the future of the U.S. Men’s National Team. Topics such as young prospects going abroad at 18 years old and young Americans like Weston McKennie and Christian Pulisic competing in the UEFA Champions League were covered in the comprehensive analysis.
Travis Clark, the Director of Content and TopDrawerSoccer.com, listed Sounders Academy as his number two reason to be excited about the future of the USMNT.
“The way that they are operating,” said Clark, “how aggressive they are with moving players up and down the system, getting players into S2 – and when I say getting players in, they’re getting 15 and 16-year-olds – and they’re aggressive in signing players to S2.”
Clark also praised the club’s willingness to hand responsibility over to a wave of talented players from the Academy, who are beginning to make an impact with S2 in the USL, despite playing against season professionals that are 10 to 15 years older. He also pointed out that, in the 2002 age group alone, the Sounders have had four Academy players called up to the U.S. U-17 national team in the past year, a sign of the organization’s to commitment to improving the quality of play for both club and country.
Both Clark and his co-host, The Total Soccer Show’s Daryl Grove, praised the club’s commitment to developing and promoting young American talents, as the rest of Major League Soccer will take notice and replicate the Sounders’ player development blueprint.
“I think other MLS teams will follow their lead,” said Clark. “Yes, some teams already do that – [New York] Red Bulls and Real Salt Lake deserve a shout out for it – but I don’t think I’ve seen a team be as aggressive, whether it’s signing players or even exposing players to S2, to USL minutes. That will then have a knock-on effect to the USL team, to the Sounders First Team, and I think one or two of those players will matriculate to the U.S. Men’s National Team. That will raise the game for everyone else.”
Both Clark and Grove cited Sounders FC Director of Player Development and Academy Director Marc Nicholls’ recent appearance on the Scuffed Soccer Podcast, where he spoke about all of the recent changes and innovations implemented by the club, as a key reason for their shared belief that Sounders Academy will be a boon to the USMNT for years to come.
You can listen to the full episode of The TopDrawerSoccer Show here.