The future of the Seattle Sounders First Team is extremely bright.
It’s not exactly breaking news that Sounders Academy has improved vastly over the last few years, with increased funding and well-rounded player development infrastructure leading to a steady pipeline of exciting prospects.
That growth was recognized by the USL Championship this week, as Sounders Homegrown players Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez and Danny Leyva were named to the USL 20-Under-20 list. The annual award identifies the top talents in the USL under the age of 20.
Ocampo-Chavez, 17, was ranked No. 17 in the 2019 edition of 20-Under-20, a significant achievement considering he’s played just over 1,000 minutes for the Tacoma Defiance this season. In that time, he’s racked up five goals, one assist and 12 key passes. Playing both as a winger and a striker, Ocampo-Chavez has turned plenty of heads with his promising displays for both the Sounders First Team and the United States U-17 Men’s National Team.
In addition to winning the Golden Boot at the 2018-19 Generation adidas Cup Champions Division, Ocampo-Chavez is leading scorer for the U.S. U-17s, tallying nine goals and five assists since the start of the new cycle in 2018.
“Alfonso has continued to score goals at every level,” Sounders FC Director of Player Development and Academy Director Marc Nicholls told USLchampionship.com. “His most recent run of form has seen him find consistency in chances created and goals scored.”
Leyva, 16, came in at No. 8 in the 20-Under-20 list. The Nevada native has cemented his place at the heart of the U.S. U-17’s midfield while also making waves at the professional level, earning four starts and six appearances in MLS regular season play for the Sounders. With the Defiance, he’s started ten matches, posting 16 interceptions and 13 tackles, all while completing 81.6-percent of his 667 pass attempts.
Despite regularly facing seasoned veterans in the USL Championship, Leyva has won over 50% of his duels, and only 12.1% of his pass attempts have gone backward. Both of these figures demonstrate his fearlessness and ability to control the midfield.
“Danny shows a maturity beyond his years and has fit seamlessly into both USL Championship and MLS games,” Nicholls told USLchampionship.com. “He is able to control games in terms of tempo and understanding, a rarity in a 16-year-old.
“We would anticipate Danny playing in 30-to-40 professional matches in 2020,” added Nicholls, “between the USL Championship and Major League Soccer.”
You can find the full USL 20-Under-20 list here.