For the fourth time this month, standouts from the Seattle Sounders youth system have been called up to United States youth national teams.
U.S. U-18 Head Coach Tab Ramos called up Tacoma Defiance winger Marlon Vargas and forward Alec Diaz this week for a domestic national team camp in Carson, Calif., running from Feb. 1-7. While Vargas was last called in for a U-14 BNT camp in 2015, this is the first USYNT involvement for Diaz.
The pair is currently in Orange County, Calif., participating in preseason with the Sounders FC First Team.
“Both players were first choice selections for the U-17s last year as they swept aside all-comers, so it’s not surprising that, when you play for the best team in the country, you should be considered for the national team,” said Tacoma Defiance Assistant Coach Wade Webber. “For me, it’s surprising that Diaz hasn’t gotten a nod until now. His last year was nothing short of amazing.
“I’ve seen Marlon do some things on the field that defy belief,” Webber continued. “He can score some goals that make you say, ‘I would pay to watch that.’ When he’s at his best, he sees angles and passing options that other people don’t see.”
Diaz, 17, elevated his profile on the national stage by consistently banging in goals for the U-17 team that won the club’s first USSDA national championship, including the game-winning goals in the Generation adidas Cup final and the national championship match against Atlanta United. Across all competitions for the U-17s and U-19s, he scored over 30 goals from just 35 appearances. His dominance at the youth level was rewarded with playing time for S2, now the Tacoma Defiance, where he bagged two goals and two assists from just 312 minutes of USL action.
Alec Diaz with Sounders Academy U-17s
With the U-19s this season, he has 12 goals through nine appearances across all competitions.
“I’m really excited,” Diaz said of his call-up. “I’ve been working for this for a really long time. I’ve been working really hard, so I’m just relieved and ready to get out there.”
Vargas, 18, was also an integral component of the Academy’s most successful side in program history. The dynamic, innovative attacking midfielder pitched in 25 goals and 31 assists from 49 appearances for the U-17s last year across all competitions. The California native, who joined Sounders from youth-affiliate club Central California Aztecs, has already started seven USL matches.
“I had a meeting with [Sounders FC Director of Player Development and Academy Director] Marc Nicholls, and he just opened up his laptop and showed me [the email from U.S. Soccer],” said Vargas. “I was just really excited. I always see guys like Azriel [Gonzalez], Alfonso [Ocampo-Chavez], Ray [Serrano], and all them getting called up, and I just want to be there, too. So, when he told me, I was really excited.”
In the past month alone, 14 players from the Academy have received USYNT call-ups at the U-15, U-17, U-18, U-19 and U-20 levels.
You can find more information on the camp here.