Sounders Academies Showcased, And They're Kalamarvelous

Dennis Kalamar of the U16s - Chris Coulter (soundersphotos.com)

The Sounders Academy players were in action in Sarasota last weekend, both for the Academy and the US national team.

Last weekend the Sounders Academies participated in a big annual confab in Florida called, briefly, the Development Academy Winter Showcase And Nike International Friendlies, where a few youth national teams get together for a small tournament while a hundred or so academy teams play under the gazes of coaches and scouts.

The Academies

The U18s started off against the Chicago Fire and took a close 2-2 game late thanks in large part to a goal and an assist from Jordan Morris, but a Fire goal at the end consigned them to a 2-3 loss. In their second match they played Montreal, and Morris earned a PK in the first half but it was missed and they went into halftime a goal down despite being a man up. They equalized on a Morris headed goal and then made their own magic in injury time when they scored the winner on an own goal (according to the Sounders twitter, although the official stats are giving the goal to Sounder Tolossa Hassan).

Then it was the U16s turn, and for all that Morris is doing for the U18s on offense, Dennis Kalamar is that and more for the junior team. In their first match they also took on the Fire and they also conceded first when they gave up a PK. But they equalized when Kalamar was taken down for their own PK, which he finished. They conceded again just after and the game finished with a 1-2 loss. Then they had their own match against Montreal, who — like their older academy-mates — decided to play most of the match a player down after a red card. Kalamar scored a headed goal in the first half just before the ejection to take a 1-0 lead into halftime, then Seattle took over. Kalamar scored two more early in the second half to complete his hat trick and post a 3-0 lead. Victor Mansaray added another to complete the 4-0 final.

Then it was time for the U18s finale, where they'd take on Shattuck-St Mary's of Minnesota. Despite Seattle reportedly having the run of play, the scoreline was all SSM as they scored two in each half to Seattle's one in each half from Morris to finish 2-4. Then the younger team took on SSM hoping to avenge the U18s. And they did, with the offense coming from guess who? Kalamar scored one in the first half and assisted a second half goal from Jose Ramos to power the team to a 2-0 win.

So mixed overall results with the U18s going 1-2 and the U16 2-1, but some impressive individual offensive performances from Morris and Kalamar. It's easy to over-focus on goal-scorers, since goals are some of the few measurable stats that come out of Academy play (they don't even officially track assists) and that's a disservice to the midfield, defense, and goalkeeping that's just as critical to the team, but still it's worth celebrating what those two players are doing. Morris has at least 9 goals on the season — it looks like the stats might not have fully caught up to the last game, in which case he'd have 11. Nine would put him in the top 10-15 of the country at that age level and 11 would put him nearer the top 5. Kalamar has 11 (and that looks like it includes everything), which as far as I can tell makes him 3rd in the country at U16. I'm going to do some work this weekend to crawl more reliable stats and see where they stand.

Select

In addition, a couple of Academy Select teams were cobbled together to play each other and U16 Sounder Lorenzo Ramos was selected to play on the Red team. He played the second half as the Reds beat the Blues 4-1.

Representing the Nats

Also in Sarasota was the US U17 team, which was taking on Portugal, Brazil, and Turkey in the Nike International Friendlies tournament. And with them was Sounder keeper Paul Christensen, who's been with the team and in residency at the Bradenton Academy all season. He started the first match against Brazil and unfortunately it wasn't his best performance. After the US took a 3-1 lead, Brazil came back with two more, the second when Christensen knocked a corner into his own net. And while that seems bad, even the great Kasey Keller has done essentially the same thing. That's the life of a keeper. Each team would score another and the game would finish 4-4.

Evan Louro started the next two games in goal: a 4-1 win over Turkey and a final 4-3 loss to Portugal which gave the Portuguese the trophy and left the US to finish in 3rd behind Brazil.

Sounders Out of College Cup

In the last Youth update, we pointed out that Akron's DeAndre Yedlin was the last Sounder left in college postseason play after Creighton eliminated the Washington Huskies. In their next match Creighton defeated Akron and ended the season for the Sounders on Campus. Now Yedlin looks to an offseason without Caleb Porter and we'll start looking ahead to next season and the next incoming class of Freshmen.

Last of 2012

The Academy teams now return back to Seattle for one final game before they take a long winter break until February. That game is Saturday the 15th at Starfire versus local rivals Crossfire. So if you want to see the Academy team in 2012 — and that's the only Sounder game action until next year — this is your last chance.

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