This summer we saw the first crop of Seattle Sounders Academy players moving on to the college game. According to the (current) MLS rules, Seattle retains the ability to sign those players as Home Grown Players if both parties agree instead of having to watch them go through the draft when they choose to begin their pro careers. So they're very much still part of the Sounders system, and we're going to be keeping an eye on their progress in the world of college soccer.
This week was the beginning of the college soccer season for most conferences and every team featuring a Sounder has played at least a game, so it's a good time for a check in to see how they're making their marks.
Akron - DeAndre Yedlin
(8/27 - 5-0 W v Cleveland St), (9/1 - 0-0 D v Cal St Fullerton)
Yedlin primarily plays right back, which is a position of need for the Sounders, and he's been recruited into the vaunted (and defending NCAA Champion) Akron Zips program under Caleb Porter, who's as accomplished at churning out pro recruits as any coach in the country. These are both excellent signs for the Sounders. Also excellent is the fact that he's getting playing time as a Freshman. Last Saturday he played 90 minutes in defense and registered an assist (by blasting a shot off the post that got put back in) in a 5-0 demolition of Cleveland State. Then on Thursday he played the full 110 minutes in a brutally physical double overtime draw with Cal State Fullerton.
Coach Porter's willingness to give the Freshman that many minutes is promising and we hope to see more of the same.
Duke - Nick Palodichuk
(8/26 - 2-3 L @ UNC Greensboro), (8/29 - 1-0 W v Furman)
There are watchers of the Academy system who believe that despite Yedlin's high profile move to Akron and the goal scoring fireworks of Sean Okoli, Palodichuk is actually the most likely player to make in impact in MLS. Unfortunately, his association with the Sounders is a little less straightforward. Sounder at Heart reviewed his situation in May. We are still operating under the assumption that if Nick signs an HGP contract it would be with the Sounders, and everything we've heard from the team reinforces that assumption.
Duke coach John "First American to play in the EPL" Kerr shares the positive assessment of Palodichuk and the Freshman midfielder has started in both of Duke's first two games.
Wake Forest - Sean Okoli
(8/27 - 0-2 L vs USF)
Okoli was second on the Sounders U18 team in scoring last season with 13 goals and even made the US U18 roster for a tournament in Israel. He's been tipped as the most likely forward on the team to make the jump to MLS and joined a strong Wake Forest team that has received some Top 25 votes in preseason polls.
In the Deacons' first game of the season, Sean started up top in a 4-3-3 and took 3 shots, but like the rest of the team he failed to score and the team was shut out by an unheralded University of South Florida.
Santa Clara - Ryan Herman
(8/27 - 1-0 W vs Stanford)
Herman did a commanding job in net for the U18 Academy last season and his name still comes up among knowledgeable fans when the future of Seattle goalkeeping is discussed. Unfortunately, youth is not an asset at the goalkeeping position — neither in the pros nor in college. So Herman is currently sitting behind senior Kevin Klasila for the Broncos and didn't see action in their first game of the season.
Oregon State - Brandon Brockway, Glen Paden
(8/27 - 1-2 L vs Portland)
Defender Brockway and Forward Paden both put in big minutes for the Sounders U18s last season but have yet to break through for the Beavers. Paden made an appearance in the final preseason game for OSU but neither freshman appeared in their season opening loss to powerhouse Portland.
College of Charleston - Troy Peterson
(8/28 - 3-2 W vs South Carolina)
Peterson played as a big central midfielder with some attacking touch for the U18s and seems to be continuing in that role for the Cougars. Charleston's first game of the regular season was a big one as they beat local rivals — and 15th ranked — South Carolina. Troy played 64 minutes in the upset and was tied for second on the team with 3 shots.
Washington - Drew White
(8/27 - 3-0 W @ Gonzaga)
White opted to stay closer to home and play for the hometown Huskies. He's a big defender who'll either play fullback or in the center. Remarkably, he scored 20 goals and had 17 assists in his senior season in High School. Either he wasn't playing defender or Camas scored a lot of goals on set pieces. Either way, he's definitely a defender for the Huskies, but he didn't make an appearance in UW's season opening beatdown of the Zags.
Florida International - Rodney Greiling
(8/26 - 2-0 W vs Nova SE), (8/28 - 1-1 D vs Florida Atlantic)
Greiling was the backup goalkeeper for the U18s and didn't see a lot of playing time behind Herman. He also hasn't seen any playing time for FIU yet, as both of their first two games were started by sophomore Eric Reyes.
Barry University - Chase Hanson
While Barry University may not be a household name, they're the 14th ranked Division 2 soccer team in the country. Plus they're located in Miami. Hard to argue with that. Hanson is a central midfield distributor and was a regular for the U18s, playing in 25 games last season. The Buccaneers' season kicks off tonight, so we'll have to wait to see how he fits into their plans.
Ancilla College - Yordan Rivera
(8/26 - 2-0 W @ Delta College), (8/27 - 3-4 L @ Muskegon CC)
Indiana's Ancilla College is the new home of Rivera, who was mainly a substitute midfielder for the Academy. Unfortunately, the Chargers site doesn't provide box scores, so it's not clear whether Yordan was on the field for their first two games.
Seattle Pacific - Evan Robicheau
(9/1 - 0-0 D v Chico State)
Robicheau also elected to stay closer to home, opting to play for Queen Anne's own Seattle Pacific University. For the Academy, Evan was a tweener sub/starter in defense and he didn't appear in the Division 2 Falcons' opening day upset draw with 8th ranked Chico State.
Highline CC - Darwin Jones
Jones is a bit of an enigma. He actually led the U18s in scoring with 16 goals as a speedy forward and winger, and I'm sure if the USSDA tracked assists he would have had a ton of those, too. But he never got the press or national team attention that Okoli got as a scorer, and his collegiate career has gotten off to an erratic start. Early on there were indications he'd go to Shoreline CC, then I had heard that he was attending Oregon State (along with Paden and Brockway), but now he seems to have settled on playing with local Highline Community College in Des Moines. The Thunderbirds' regular season doesn't start until September 14.
Shoreline CC - Jeremy Wentzel
Wentzel was a frequent starter on defense for the U18s and will be playing for Shoreline this season. The Dolphins' website is — like that of many Community Colleges — erratically updated and Jeremy isn't currently listed on the roster. However, he shows up as getting a caution in a preseason match at Starfire, so he's there. As far as I can tell, the regular season starts September 5th.
Finally, there's Jamael Cox. He was a solid midfielder and winger for the U18s and he's the only player who graduated out of the U18s and who I wasn't able to track into a college program. I contacted Darren Sawatzky, who's Director of Youth Development for the Sounders, and he indicated that Jamael is trying to start his pro career immediately. Where and how that's happening aren't clear yet, but I'll keep an eye out for him. It's also not clear how that might impact his status as a HomeGrown Player for the Sounders.