Four Seattle Sounders Academy players training with first team
(Via Seattle Sounders FC / Joseph Mondello) – As the Seattle Sounders prepare for the 2017 MLS season, there is a distinct local influence in preseason camp. In addition to Homegrown players Aaron Kovar, Victor Mansaray, Seyi Adekoya and Henry Wingo – as well as new S2 signing Lorenzo Ramos – four standouts from the Academy joined up with the reigning MLS Cup champions.
Holding midfielder Sam Rogers (U-18), winger Shandon Hopeau (U-18), striker Azriel Gonzalez (U-16) and goalkeeper Sam Fowler (U-16) were all invited to participate in the first week of preseason. Since the goal of the Academy is to produce future stars for the first team, the opportunity to train with established professionals and impress the first team coaching staff is a vital experience.
When asked if any of the new signings or trialists stood had made a good first impression, head coach Brian Schmetzer immediately singled out the youth team players for praise.
“I’ll say this, I was impressed by some of the Academy kids we had,” he said. “The whole group was okay for the first day, but I was impressed with some the Academy kids.”
“We want to make sure the Academy and S2 are integrated a little bit better with the first team,” he continued. “So that was something that stood out.”
Over the past couple of years, the club has drastically increased its soccer programming in order to streamline player development. The implementation of S2 and Sounders Discovery Program has created a clear pipeline from the U-10 age group all the way up to the first team. With the infrastructure in place, the increased integration between the Academy, S2 and the first team will accelerate the development of the most promising prospects in the club.