The past weekend posed a bit of a quandary. The Saturday Academy games would have the U16s would play at the same time as the Sounders FC First Team. Life interfered with my ability to see the younger team on Sunday. Unlike most weeks the crowd was tiny for the U18 matches, but on each day a small contingent of fans (not friends and family) caught the games. Lamar Neagle would watch both Sunday matches from the press box area.
There are two versions of the first Sounders U18 goal on Saturday. According to what I saw at the time Jordan Morris danced all over the left elbow, broke free to the endline and slapped a left footed cross across the goal mouth to David Olsen. Olsen tapped it in. The team reports that Morris used a left footed shot from the endline that scored around the keeper. Either way Saturday was the Olsen show. He would score two (more) goals that day, primarily using the DeAnza Force's overfocus on Morris to generate space. In his third year in USSDA and second with U18 playing time he has 11 or 12 goals in the season. Saturday was also notable because Paul Christensen again started in goal. Both Christensen and Olsen are U16 eligible players playing up an age level. Gustav Brandt got his first start slotting in at left mid.
Sunday saw supersub Kenny Sweet start instead of Morris. Monday the world would find out that Morris was called to the US U20s. Sweet only has four starts on the season, but racked up 23 appearances. He's played out wide and up top using his speed to open up space. His touch is strong and he's one of those guys that "tries things." He would score a hattrick, nearly getting a fourth on a chip that was cleared by an amazing play that unfortunately resulted in a significant injury to the Santa Cruz player. Sweet is now at seven goals.
While the attacking players tend to get all the attention, the cohesive performances along the 18s backline and midfield are strong. The team is well stocked with '95s and many will be back next year. Seattle's plus 31 goal difference is almost entirely due to an amazing offense, but it is clear that the developmental path along the spine is doing just fine. There's a bit of an alternating cycle of offense/defense/offense/defense going on in the Academy's early years.
Academy Update: Winning Ways Continue at Starfire
Sounders FC Academy came away 3-0-1 this past weekend in home fixtures with DeAnza Force and the Santa Cruz Breakers. The U18's used a Saturday brace by David Olsen and a Sunday hat trick by Kenny Sweet to earn two victories, while the U16's picked up a draw and a win on consecutive clean sheets by goalkeeper Ben Willis.
The U18's are now unbeaten (3-0-1) in their past four games and sit first place in the USSDA Northwest Division, one point ahead of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC. The U16's have not lost in their past six outings (5-0-1) and trail the first-place Force by four points. The Academy squads return to action May 4-5 with home games against Cal Odyssey and the San Jose Earthquakes.
Sounders FC U18 (USSDA) (14-4-6, 48 points)
Sounders FC vs. DeAnza Force (April 20) - W, 3-2
After DeAnza took an early 1-0 lead, Jordan Morris equalized before the half with his 22nd goal of the season. The Force took a 2-1 lead with a goal around the hour mark before David Olsen put the Rave Green on top with a late brace. He equalized in the 74th when he volleyed a pinpoint Henry Wingo cross into the back of the net, then got the late winner when he tapped in a Sam Langston cross. Olsen is second on the club with 11 goals on the season.
Sounders FC Goals (Assists): Jordan Morris, David Olsen (Henry Wingo), David Olsen (Sam Langston)
Sounders FC vs. Santa Cruz Breakers (April 21) - W, 3-1
Kenny Sweet netted three goals-giving him seven goals on the season-as the U18's completed the weekend sweep with a 3-1 win over the Breakers. Sweet scored early before Santa Cruz equalized in the 14th minute, then added one before the half and completed the hat trick in the second half on a ball from Ike Crook. Crook is second on the team with nine assists this season.
Sounders FC Goals (Assists): Kenny Sweet, Kenny Sweet, Kenny Sweet (Ike Crook)
Sounders FC U16 (USSDA) (14-3-7, 49 points)
Sounders FC vs. DeAnza Force (April 20) - D, 0-0
The U16's snapped a four-match winning streak with a scoreless draw in a matchup of the top two teams in the USSDA Northwest Division. Sounders FC was close early when Harrison Kurtz's shot hit the crossbar before Vic Mansaray was flagged offside on the rebound.
Sounders FC Goals (Assists): None
Sounders FC vs. Santa Cruz Breakers (April 21) - W, 1-0
Elliot Havens put Seattle up early and a last-minute save by keeper Joe Willis kept Santa Cruz off the scoreboard and preserved the three points. It marked the third straight shutout for Willis as the U16's have lost just once (9-1-4) in their last 14 games.
Sounders FC Goals (Assists): Elliot Havens