The Seattle Sounders Academy U-15 and U-17 squads are off to Los Angeles, Calif., this weekend for the second round of qualifying for the Generation adidas Cup. Back in October 2019, the U-15s finished the first event top of their group with seven points. While San Jose and Sporting Kansas City are level on points, it’s Seattle’s +13-goal differential that keeps them atop the group, courtesy of an 11-0 win over Minnesota United.
“Makes it exciting because we have everything to play for in this second round,” said U-15 Head Coach Dan Lock. “We’re in a position where it’s in our hands. We have to win our games and we will advance. It’s why we’re in the event. It puts the guys in a competitive environment and gives us that added balance of winning and development.”
This marks the second occasion in which MLS will hold the U-15 age group final at the Toyota Soccer Center in Frisco, Texas.
Added Lock: “It’s always great to get top level games against international opponents and play for something on the line, especially as this event was what launched Marlon Vargas, Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez and Danny Leyva. Events like this are also good for the players national team exposure.”
The reigning champions of the GA Cup Champions Division U-17s will also have their work cut out for them, as they have only 4 points in their group.
“We just played LA Galaxy at the Florida Winter Cup in December, so it’s good to play them again so soon,” said U-17 Head Coach Gary Lewis. “They are very competitive, play at a high level and the game finished in a draw.”
The U-17’s are in a great run of form from the Winter Cup, US Soccer’s newest competition format, getting qualification for The Spring Cup in Kansas City at the end of April.
“We are looking to maintain that [Winter Cup] form into GA Cup,” said Lewis. “We’ve also already played San Jose which ended in a tie, so there’s a chance for qualifying for top level with LA at the top of the group. Tournament based games are great because we can focus on our game model and style of play, but it’s also good to have something to play for riding on the result. In terms of player development, players are reminded of all the things we can take care of on a daily basis, but on a competitive phase, it needs to be thought about.
After earning Player of the Tournament honors at the GA Cup, @SoundersAcademy midfielder Marlon Vargas has been named one of "five players to know" by @MLS. 👀— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) April 7, 2018
MORE: https://t.co/jStGjwIoRq pic.twitter.com/Jw2bWKKEvO
“There is added pressure on the group being reigning champions, but Sounders are on the map. It’s turned into a big occasion for teams to play against Sounders FC Academy because of our previous success. This environment works equally for player development because we want the boys to rise to the occasion.”
A few Sounders Academy alumni have seen success in recent years in the GA Cup tournament, including standouts under contract with the Tacoma Defiance, as well as First Team Homegrowns Ocampo-Chavez and Leyva.
“This is what we are in the business for – player development,” said Lewis. “Of course, if we can get one or two guys in the spotlight, then we are doing our job. It’s fantastic for everyone to win GA Cup, but we’re in the business for players to get contracts.
“Our pride comes from watching the guys walk on CenturyLink Field. It’s still important to have a competitive element leading into top tournaments like GA Cup. These experiences give the boys experience when walking onto the field for MLS Cup Finals.”
NATIONAL TEAM DUTY
U-17 midfielder Juan Alvarez was called in to go to England with the U.S. U-16 National Team for the UEFA Development Tournament.
“This is a great opportunity for him,” said Lewis. “We thought it was much more important for his development to attend this event and get the chance to compete against some of the top countries in the world.”
Sounders FC U15 vs LA Galaxy 1 p.m. PT | Dignity Health Sports Park Field 4
Sounders FC U17 vs LA Galaxy 6 p.m. PT | Dignity Health Sports Park Field 3
Sounders FC U17 vs San Jose Earthquakes 3:30 p.m. PT | Dignity Health Sports Park Field 3
Sounders FC U15 vs San Jose Earthquakes 6 p.m. PT | Dignity Health Sports Park Field 4
Sounders FC U17 vs Sporting Kansas City 11 a.m. PT | Dignity Health Sports Park Field 3
Sounders FC U15 vs Sporting Kansas City 1 p.m. PT | Dignity Health Sports Park Field 4
You can find the full schedule and standings for GA Cup qualifying here.