The Seattle Sounders' U-18 and U-16 Academy players have occasionally been showing up here and there in scrimmages in the last couple of months, but other than that Academy news has pretty much gone dark. When the teams last took the field in an official capacity — in late February — both had a commanding lead in their respective Northwest Divisions, but to some degree that was a quirk of the scheduling. The Washington clubs were scheduled to take an immense break between late February and late May (presumably because Washington high schools play spring soccer rather than winter soccer) and so the Sounders had already played 7 of their scheduled 12 divisional games by the time the calendars flipped to March. The U-18s had won 5 of those games and the U-16s 4, so it wasn't simply the larger games played that had pushed them to the top, but still there was plenty of time for the other teams to catch up and create a playoff race. Now that we've had a couple of months of catching up, we can get a clearer picture of the standings.
For the U-18s, local rivals Crossfire had built up some points with an equal 7 games played, but a 2-3-2 record meant that they were going to be passed easily when the California teams started ramping up the schedule, and so it was. California Development Academy has won all 4 of the divisional games they've played since the Sounders started their break and now trail by just 4 points with two games left in hand. Behind them is Cal Odyssey, who've won their only divisional game in the same span and are now 7 points behind, also with two games in hand. Those two teams play each other next weekend and the one left standing will probably be the Sounders major contender for the division. The CDA winning streak has come at the expense of the other teams in the division and now they have all dropped well off the pace. The Sounders play CDA at home on May 28 in a game that might decide the division. Fortunately the Sounders' solid play out of the division as well means that they're likely to earn a wild card spot even if they don't take the division, but winning it in their first season of existence would be a nice feather in the cap.
For the U-16s, the major rivals are the Crossfire, who were only two points back when the Washington clubs took their break. The California clubs have been playing fairly evenly in the interim and only Cal Odyssey is in striking distance, with a 5 point deficit and two games in hand. If they keep up the pace, then the division may be decided in the last week of the season when Odyssey hosts both the Sounders and Crossfire in a 2-day stretch. Fortunately, the U-16s are also comfortably in the wild card positions if they don't take the division.
But the players haven't been sitting on their hands (or feet) during the Academy season break. As Jeremiah posted last week, Sounders Academy player and future Akron Zip DeAndre Yedlin has been called into the US U-18 camp in Portland this week. The team plays the Timbers (presumably the Reserves?) in a friendly tomorrow and then the UofP and UW this weekend.
Also, U-18 forward Glen Paden has been tearing up the local 3A high school soccer scene by scoring nonstop for the Shorecrest Scots. As of March 31 he had 13 goals and 8 assists in 7 games. He was picked as the national high school player of the week by ESPN a few weeks ago and Shorecrest is the 15th ranked team in the country by the NSCAA. In fact, 5 of the top 20 are Washington State high schools.