The first week of Division I soccer is in the books and our Sounders Academy alumni, to be frank, collectively kicked ass and took names. Returning players continued to be a big part of championship caliber teams and even some Freshmen wasted no time in establishing themselves on the NCAA map.
#7 Akron - DeAndre Yedlin
(8/24 - 4-0 W v Florida Gulf Coast Assist)
Yedlin kicked off his sophomore season picking up an assist in a home trouncing of Florida Gulf Coast. His runs up the sideline from the right back position have become a key component in the Zips attack. Things may be getting a little awkward around Akron, however, as it's just been announced that head coach Caleb Porter will become the head coach of the Timbers next season.
Stanford - Aaron Kovar
(8/24 - 1-0 W @ San Francisco Goal)
In just a few games, Kovar has risen from heralded recruit to the Cardinal's most important offensive player. He scored in both of their preseason matches, including the game winner in a 1-0 victory. And in the first regular season match he proved it was no fluke. He scored the only goal in a tough 1-0 away win over the San Francisco Dons. It may prove to be a tough season for Stanford if Kovar continues to be their only scorer, but for now his college career is off to a remarkable start.
Duke - Nick Palodichuk
(8/25 - 0-1 L @ Notre Dame)
Palodichuk quickly established himself as an important player for the Blue Devils last season, and one of the top Freshmen in the ACC. But in game one of 2012 Duke was completely outclassed against Notre Dame and were barely able to maintain any offensive possession, which gave Nick few chances as a forward in his 85 minutes. It'll be interesting to see if he keeps lining up as a forward this season after switching between striker and midfielder last year.
#23 Wake Forest - Sean Okoli
(8/25 - 1-0 W v Wofford)
Across the ACC, Okoli started at forward and played 61 minutes for the Demon Deacons. Wake Forest outshot Wofford 19 to 8 but were only able to pick up a single goal for the winning margin.
Many Sounders faithful were in attendance as the Huskies kicked off their season, and they were rewarded as they saw the Academy players have an immediate impact. They were taken to the brink by a Zags team that they've dominated in the past, but a 76th minute Washington goal tied up the game and took it to overtime where Lange headed in the sudden death winner to kick off his Huskies career. Gallagher also played big minutes in central defense where he was a solid presence (with one goal-saving slide tackle in the box) and a good distributor.
In game two, Lange and Gallagher both started and played significant minutes as the team booked a 2-0 start to the season.
That long list of names for the Huskies should be longer. Dynamic forward Darwin Jones was planning on transferring to Washington, but it sounds like there are issues with his not having picked up his AA at Highline (which shouldn't be surprising, since he was only there for a year). News sounds pessimistic and there's an open question of what he should do if he can't suit up for the Huskies. Returning to CC play, where he dominated, would seem to be a waste of his talents. It's possible the Sounders could sign him to an HGP deal. It would be unfortunate if their hand was forced by an eligibility issue like this, but Jones is definitely a player who would benefit from training with professionals and has the potential to be a dangerous attacker in MLS. Dominique Dismuke is also committed to Washington as a Freshman but he too is working through some eligibility issues.
Bucknell - Jesse Klug
(8/24 - 1-1 D @ VCU Goal, 8/26 - 1-1 D v Butler)
Klug scored 18 minutes into his college career to help secure a 1-1 away draw to open the season. And he had three shots on goal in his 88 minutes in the Bisons' second match, which also ended 1-1.
Stefan Bangsund started and played 45 for Delaware as they dropped their season opener to Massachusetts 0-1. West Virginia opened their season with two wins with Nick Raskasky starting in defense. The Mountaineers are now on the edge of a Top 25 ranking. Four Sounders alums are playing for Western, who kick off their season this weekend. CC powerhouse Yavapai opened their season with three consecutive shutout victories, but I can't find any box scores yet so I'm not sure if Justin Solomon is getting minutes for the team.
All in all it was a tremendous opening week for the Sounders Academy players, especially given that they're all underclassmen and yet are making major contributions. It's another sign the Seattle has one of the best Academies in the country, and it should only get better in the future.