Watching the Sounders FC Academy U-18s

6 12 2010

Spent some of the afternoon Monday in the hazy sunshine and mid-70s temps of the Reach 11 Soccer Complex in north Phoenix, about 45 minutes from my home.

I came to see the Sounders Academy U-18 boys play their second game of the annual Winter Showcase. It’s around 70 select teams playing at the giant complex of fields that started Friday and ends Tuesday night. I figured since it wasn’t far from home and I’d get to see some of the future in action, I’d check it out. Thanks to Darren Sawatzky, SSFC’s director of youth development, for inviting me out and for taking time to say hello this afternoon.

The youngsters look solid. They were undefeated  (7-0-3) on the season going into the game against the Virginia Rush, but lost a man to a red card in the first half yet were still the better team on the field. Alas, the Sounders fell 1-0, though there were a couple of impressive performances.

Goalkeeper Rodney Greiling was really impressive. I saw him make one very good save in the first half and three in the second. One of those denied a clear one-on-one chance.

The Sounders had some good opportunities but couldn’t cash in. The referee didn’t call two very close penalties in the box that would have given the Sounders a PK late in the match.

I was surprised at how competitive and serious and physical this match was. Guys were talking at each other, not trash talk but that kind of tone you use when it’s a hard-fought game.

Look at this contact.

Lastly, wouldn’t be complete without a video. Saw a lot of college scouts watching this game, too — St. Mary’s (CA), St. John’s, Northern Illinois, Oregon State, Dayton, Barry, Florida Atlantic, Stanford, Seattle U., Duke, Siena, Brown and Northwestern. And that was just the ones I saw.

Sounders in blue. Pretty good action here.

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2 responses

7 12 2010
Chris

The U18 is pretty stacked with talent. From reading your match report, the best keeper (Ryan Herman) wasn’t even in the net.

The team has been hit with their fair share of red cards this year and that’s probably the one big fault that they have as a team.

It was good to see Okoli out there in the video you posted. Sean had recently been called into the US U20 side to train in CA and it was just announced he’s part of the roster traveling to Israel:

http://www.ussoccer.com/News/U-18-MNT/2010/12/Matkovich-to-Take-20-Players-to-Tel-Aviv.aspx

8 12 2010
Oranje

I saw two of the three red cards issued…one was a complete joke (referee watched video after the game and admitted he shouldn’t have even blown his whistle, let alone give a card) and the one down in Phoenix was very iffy as well. That being said, you are absolutely right. Those kind of things cannot continue. Having a starter out for effectively five games (both cards were early in the game and carry a 1 and 2 game suspension, respectively) is a huge loss, especially because the three cards have gone to two of their best players.

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