The youngest members of Sounders Academy are in Oceanside, Calif., for the first-ever edition of the U-15 USSDA playoffs this week. They enter the competition full of confidence after a dominant regular season, during which they posted a 16-0-3 record in league play.
“Obviously they did really well in the league, finishing the season unbeaten was a good achievement,” said U-15 head coach Dan Lock. “What’s been good about the group is we’ve managed to have a successful league season while quite a few of the players were regularly playing up with the U-17s. So, it’s been a whole squad effort.”
Only eight teams in the country qualified for the postseason, so the Sounders’ qualification for the tournament is indicative of their growing success in elite player development.
GOLAZO!!! 🤩— Sounders FC Academy (@SoundersAcademy) May 27, 2019
Angel Martinez chips the keeper to give us a 4-0 lead! pic.twitter.com/fHgJuwIhBL
According to Lock, the team’s success this year has been driven by the group’s commitment to humility, work ethic and resilience.
“We have a nice balance between playing positive soccer on the front foot while also being able to sustain possession and buildout from the back,” added Lock. “From a defensive aspect, their pressing has been pretty good.
“The playoffs are a platform for the boys to show the hard work from the year. They’ve prepared well, worked hard and learned a lot. Now it’s a chance for them to express themselves and demonstrate their qualities.”
If the Sounders manage to win their group, which contains the Montreal Impact, Toronto FC and South Florida-based Weston FC, they’ll advance to the national championship match. However, even if they don’t manage to finish atop their group, they’ll still play one more game to determine their ultimate ranking for the 2018-19 season.
Players to watch | Oscar Rincon (ST, 2004), Austin Brummett (ST, 2004), Josh Hardin (LW, 2005) and Reed Baker-Whiting (CM, 2005).
Schedule | Sounders vs. Montreal Impact (6/20, 1:00 p.m. PT), Sounders vs. Toronto FC (6/21, 5:15 p.m. PT), Sounders vs. Weston FC (6/23, 1:00 p.m. PT).