The Seattle Sounders suffered a road defeat against the Montreal Impact on Wednesday night, shipping two unanswered goals after taking a 1-0 lead in the 65th minute.
While the result was certainly disappointing, the match contained a few bright spots, especially Stefan Frei’s ridiculous save on Maxi Urruti in the 60th minute and Víctor Rodríguez’s inch-perfect penalty kick.
But none were brighter than the MLS debut of 16-year-old Homegrown midfielder Danny Leyva, who became the youngest player in club history to feature in a regular season fixture when he entered the fray in the 81st minute.
“I’m just really excited,” Leyva said after the game. “Just getting an opportunity to play in an MLS match is great. Obviously, the result wasn’t in our favor. But it was a special moment for me.”
Entering the match with his team trailing 2-1 on the road, the circumstances weren’t necessarily ideal for a teenager in his inaugural appearance. But Leyva, who has demonstrated a capacity for leadership and humility throughout his two years in the Academy, greeted the adversity with determination.
“It was definitely a tough challenge for me,” said Leyva. “I looked at it as an opportunity, and just wanted to push myself more and perform well in the minutes that I got.”
Just a few months ago, Leyva wasn’t on the radar for many fans Sounders fans, let alone in U.S. Soccer circles. But after impressing throughout preseason with the First Team, the kid from Las Vegas earned a Homegrown contract with the First Team on the back of strong performances with the Tacoma Defiance and training spells with the Sounders.
Leyva and the U-17s leading Sounders supporters in Scarves Up ahead of the San Jose Earthquakes match | Charis Wilson
It would be easy for a player so young to get swept up in the moment, basking in his ascent from promising Academy player to a fully-fledged member of the First Team. But Leyva, who garnered even more attention with his displays for the Academy at Generation adidas Cup and the U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team at the Concacaf Championship, is ready to put in the work required to keep climbing the ranks.
“It’s been kind of a rollercoaster,” he added. “I’ve accomplished a lot of my goals. So, I need to set a lot more and keep pushing myself to maintain a high level and keep achieving those goals. It’s been a good couple of months, but I need to top that now.”
The Sounders now enter a three-week break from MLS matches during the international window, returning to action on June 29 for a home match against the Vancouver Whitecaps (TICKETS). However, they’ll have a quick turnaround next week as they host the Portland Timbers in the U.S. Open Cup on June 12 at Cheney Stadium (TICKETS).