The journey continues for the Sounders Academy U-17s in the Generation adidas Cup Champions Division.
One year after winning the GA Cup Premier Division, the young Sounders have advanced from Group D, which featured the Montreal Impact, Brazilian side Flamengo and Spanish giants Valencia CF.
“We are proud to have made it through after a very poor first match,” said Sounders FC Director of Player Development and Academy Director Marc Nicholls. “It was a great response and performance from the boys against Flamengo and a solid, professional win over the Impact.”
On Tuesday, they'll face Argentina powerhouse River Plate, a club that has developed international stars like Alfredo Di Stefano, Hernan Crespo, Gonzalo Higauin, Radamel Falcao, Erik Lamela and Javier Mascherano.
With an impressive track record against elite international opponents, the young Sounders are ready to rise to the occasion against one of premier player development pipelines of the global game.
“River will be a very tough match,” said Nicholls. “We’ve been told they are the best team at the event. It will be an excellent test and opportunity for our players.”
The Rave Green came flying out of the gates in their first match against Valencia, with Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez rounding the goalkeeper and striking the post in the opening minutes. Seattle carved out several quality chances in the first half but entered the break level with their Spanish counterparts.
Punished for failing to capitalize on their opportunities in front of goal, Valencia took a 1-0 lead early in the second period. Seattle dominated proceedings for the final 15 minutes but were unable to find an equalizer.
Needing a win against Flamengo to advance, the match seemed destined for a draw. Seattle nearly broke the deadlock through a Danny Leyva wonder-strike in the second half, but the Brazilian’s goalkeeper produced a stunning save to deny the 15-year-old Homegrown midfielder. The young Sounders eventually grabbed three points, though, when Ocampo-Chavez headed home Leyva’s free kick in the dying seconds of the match.
The Sounders entered their final group stage game with the Impact on Monday controlling their own destiny, as a win would secure passage to the quarterfinals. Ocampo-Chavez once again provided the heroics, finishing off right back Bryson Hankin’s cross in the second half.
Seattle faces River Plate on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. PT, with a spot in the semifinals on the line. The match will be live-streamed on Major League Soccer’s Twitch account. You can find the full streaming schedule here.
Goalkeeper Conrad Lee has been terrific all tournament long, coming up with clutch saves and earning two clean sheets. Ocampo-Chavez has bagged two goals in two games, while his former Defiance teammate, Leyva, has pulled the strings in midfield. Leyva’s partner in the double-pivot, Chris Hegardt, was phenomenal against Flamengo, blending hard tackles with composure in possession.