Three standouts from Seattle Sounders FC Academy – Reed Baker-Whiting, Obed Vargas and Josh Hardin – were in camp last week with the United States U-15 Boys National Team in Chula Vista, Calif.
The youngest full-time age group in the USYNT system, the U-15s serve as an entry point for the top prospects in the country. With three representatives of the Seattle Sounders at the camp, the latest roster is a positive benchmark for the status of the club’s youth system.
While this was the first U-15 call-up for Vargas, it marked the second trip for Baker-Whiting and Hardin, both of whom traveled with the Stars & Stripes for the UEFA Development Tournament in Poland over the Summer.
“They’re on the right track,” said Sounders FC Director of Player Development Henry Brauner. “It’s just a testament to all of their hard work, and the work of the Academy staff to get them all of these opportunities to put themselves in a new environment outside their comfort zone.”
Vargas playing for the Sounders U-15s at Starfire Sports | Quinn Width
The trio’s inclusion on the U.S. U-15 roster is an important data point on the club’s youth development infrastructure. Baker-Whiting and Hardin joined the Sounders Discovery Program, which invites top talents in the U-12 to U-14 age groups to train twice per week with Sounders Academy coaches, from Seattle United and PAC NW, respectively.
“They were indoctrinated into the methodology and pedagogy, in terms of how we train the players with our curriculum, from a very young age,” said Brauner. “When they were U-12s, they were with Brayton [Knapp] already in SDP.”
Vargas, who hails from Alaska, was identified through the Sounders’ youth scouting network.
Beyond SDP, the club aims to accelerate development for top prospects by exposing them to the global standard of soccer, taking them on international trips from a young age to compete against some of the best clubs in the world.
“When they go to national team events, they’ve already been put in these pressure situations where they’re better prepared to make that jump,” added Brauner. “I think the way they’re challenged in their day-to-day environment prepares them for that.”
You can find the full roster for the camp here.