Six players from the Seattle Sounders player development system have been called up by their respective United States youth national teams for a combined camp in Lakewood Ranch, Fla., which will include the U-17, U-19 and U-20 squads. Running from Jan. 4-13, the three-team camp will kick off the new year as the U-17s and U-20s build toward their World Cups.
“It’s a great way to start the new year,” said Sounders FC Director of Player Development Marc Nicholls. “We’re happy to have so many call-ups in a key year for U.S. Soccer, with two World Cups coming up.”
Center back Sam Rogers, who signed with Sounders FC 2 in 2017, has been a mainstay for a U.S. U-20 side that recently repeated as Concacaf champions, defeating their counterparts from Mexico 2-0 in the final. A cerebral defender who is comfortable in possession, the Ballard native will look to cement his place in Head Coach Tab Ramos’ plans as he refines the player pool ahead of the 2019 U-20 World Cup in Poland.
Indiana University goalkeeper Trey Muse, who played alongside Rogers in the Academy, also makes his return to the U.S. U-20 fold after leading the Hoosiers to the NCAA Men’s College Cup semifinal.
Goalkeeper Sam Fowler has earned three starts and featured in every U-19 camp since the start of the new cycle in January 2018. For center back Blake Malone, this is his first opportunity to represent the Stars and Stripes at any level, a clear sign of his rapid ascent since joining the Sounders youth system in 2017.
“I’m delighted for Blake to get his first call-up,” added Nicholls. “His performances at the DA Winter Showcase were phenomenal. He had a very impressive tournament.”
Malone’s call-up exemplifies the club’s successful player identification and scouting initiatives. A central midfielder for Downtown Las Vegas Soccer Club, he was brought into Sounders Academy in 2017 to play defense because his skill set better aligned with a center back’s positional profile in the Sounders’ game model. Malone, who helped lead the U-17s to a USSDA national title and started six USL matches with S2 in 2018, is also age-eligible to represent the U.S. U-18s, meaning he will be playing up an age group at his first international event.
Blake Malone playing for the Sounders U-19s in a home match at Starfire Sports | Quinn Width
“With the way we want to play, we always felt that Blake would be a center back for us,” added Nicholls. “He’s got a real capacity for leadership, he loves to defend, and thrives in 1-v-1 situations.”
With the U.S. U-17s gearing up for 2019 World Cup qualification, the latest camp has yielded another round of call-ups for S2 prospects Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez and Ray Serrano. A clever, dynamic forward with a nose for goal, Ocampo-Chavez recently featured for the Young Yanks in matches against Portugal and Brazil at the Nike Friendlies. With seven goals and five assists from 12 appearances for the Sounders U-17s this season, Serrano enters his seventh USYNT camp in excellent form.
“Alfonso has been an ever-present for the U.S. since he was 15, but he is going to have to make a big impact at this one as he has more competition now, which is good for him,” added Nicholls. “Ray responded to missing the Nike Friendlies the way wanted him to: working hard, putting his head down and doing enough at the [Winter Showcase] to earn his way back.”
You can find more information on the camp here.