Seattle Sounders Academy standouts Eric Kinzner and Sota Kitahara are in Prague this week with the United States U-16 boys national team for an international tournament. Interim Head Coach Larry Sunderland brought along the young Sounders as part of 20-player roster for matches against Venezuela, Hungary and host nation Czech Republic.
“It’s great to have Eric and Sota playing internationally,” said Sounders FC Director of Player Development and Academy Director Marc Nicholls. “We’ll miss them for the last couple of USSDA games, but that’s a good thing.”
Kinzner, a center back from Federal Way, Wash., has been a mainstay with the U.S. U-16s, earning call-ups to four of the five camps since the start of the new cycle in 2018. A physical player who is comfortable with the ball at his feet, Kinzner has been an integral part of the Sounders U-17 team that won the Generation adidas Cup Champions Division.
KInzner, Kitahara and the U-17s celebrate winning the GA Cup
This is the second call-up to the U-16 national team for Seattle United alum Kitahara, who also represented the Yanks at the U-15 level. A ranging defensive midfielder who can also line up at right back, the local product played his way back into the U.S. picture with a series of strong showings at the GA Cup.
“This is Eric’s second foreign trip and Sota’s first,” said Nicholls. “Whenever we can get our boys overseas experiencing different styles of soccer and representing the Sounders, it’s a good thing.”
Kinzner and Kitahara’s inclusion on the latest USYNT roster is another sign of the club’s successful investment in player development infrastructure, as both prospects came through the Sounders Discovery Program.