This season has matured a little longer than is usual before I post an update on what the Sounders Academy graduates are up to in college, but that just means there's more info to chew on. Injuries have already had a significant impact on the alumni this season. . in some cases taking opportunities away and in one case giving a big opportunity.
M Ian Lange (2 Goals), F Darwin Jones (Assist), D Michael Gallagher, F Dom Dismuke, GK Ryan Herman
The hometown Huskies have had an eventful start to the season. Their undefeated start — including a two game east coast road trip to face two ranked teams — has lifted them from a preseason #23 ranking to #6 in the country.
The season kicked off with a win at Gonzaga thanks to a shutout and a goal assisted by Sounder transfer Darwin Jones when he sped to the corner to cross in for a header. Then they came home to win two consecutive games (over Santa Clara and Portland) by 4-1 scores, apparently putting to bed any questions about their offense this year after returning nobody who scored more than 2 goals last year. Of those 8 goals, 5 came off of set pieces, which does continue a tradition from last year, when the top scorer was center back Dylan Tucker-Gangnes (now a Timber). And three of them were off of throw ins from Michael Harris, he of the spectacular flip-throw.
Washington then left for a tough road trip that kicked off at then #3 UConn. The Huskies held on for a scoreless draw, but at a steep price. Senior Spencer Richey — one of the top keepers in the country — left the game in the 84th minute with a bad injury that would turn out to be a broken leg. While he recovers, that puts the keys to the goalmouth in the hands of red-shirt Sophomore and Sounder Ryan Herman. So far so good, as he held out for the last 27 minutes of that game (though he didn't have to make any saves) and then saved 4 shots to shut out #25 Brown in the next match for the win, thanks to a goal from another Sounder — midfielder Ian Lange. That game winner was Lange's second goal on the season after he scored one of the 4 against Portland.
That road trip also saw the return of central defender Michael Gallagher, who missed the first few matches of the season but was back starting by the Brown match. Given that he started almost the entire season last year as a true Freshman, we should expect to see him a lot more this season. The final Sounder is forward and winger Dom Dismuke, who's just made a couple of sub appearances so far. And it's worth pointing out that while Jones has just the 1 assist so far this year, he's been a massive factor in the offense with 16 shots, while the next highest player has 6. And he isn't particularly wasteful, so I'd expect to start seeing those go in for goals soon. The team's next game is at home tonight against Florida Gulf Coast.
#9 Wake Forest3-2-0
F Sean Okoli (Goal, Assist)
Like clockwork, the young Demon Deacons have beaten the unranked teams they've faced and lost to the ranked teams. After an explosive preseason that included a first half hat trick in one match, Okoli has had a slow start scoring. But it hasn't been for lack of effort, as he's second in the conference in shots taken, so much like Darwin I'd expect the goals to start flowing soon. He had the game-winning goal over Virginia last weekend, so hopefully that primes the pump. Next up they face Pittsburgh on the road on Saturday (on ESPN3 for your viewing pleasure), and then they hope their streak of losses to ranked teams ends as they take on #8 VCU at home.
M Kovar (Assist), F Jordan Morris (Assist)
The Cardinal have had one of the lightest schedules so far, with only 4 games scheduled. Not to say the competition has been easy. The young duo of Sounders got off to a flying start in their first match against #2 ranked Maryland when Kovar forced an own goal with a deflected shot and then Morris assisted a second goal. The Terps would eventually come back for a 3-3 draw. Then they faced #3 ranked Georgetown and fell 0-2. With those brutal matches out of the way, they beat Santa Clara 1-0 in a match they dominated and then Kovar assisted the first goal in a 2-1 win over Grand Canyon (their first season as a Div I program) in which the Cardinal outshot the Antelopes 25 - 2. Tonight they take on College of Charleston...
College of Charleston1-3-0
M Troy Peterson, Ike Crook
A rough start to their first season in the CAA. They were holding Akron close in the first game before Crook was given a straight red for a tackle (I saw this on the stream and it was grainy, but it didn't look like a straight red to me. Also, I'm biased). The Zips scored two late to take that game. Charleston rebounded with a win over borderline ranked Xavier, but then dropped two straight to Furman (Dempsey's alma mater!) and Vermont (not Dempsey's alma mater!) Peterson is one of the Sounders on Campus veterans from the first Academy graduating class and is very well regarded in the organization, but this looks like a tough year for the Cougars.
F Michael Steele
The Beavers are next on the list by dint of getting a few top 25 votes from the coaches, but they may not for long as they got clobbered 3-0 by Portland after the last rankings came out. Freshman Michael Steele didn't get any minutes in the first four matches and I thought this might be a redshirt year for him, but over the last three he's averaged about 50 minutes as a substitute, so he's clearly in the plans of head coach Steve Simmons and even assistant coach and ONETIME SOUNDER LEGEND — and bane of Monterrey — Terry Boss.
UC Santa Barbara3-2-0
D Brandon Brockway
Brockway started most of last season as a center back for the Gauchos as a redshirt Freshman. And he started the first three matches of this season before going down with an injury, the extent of which is unclear at this point. Though he's tweeted ominously about an MRI. The Gauchos kicked off their season with an away win over ranked Northwestern and then beat Illinois before coming home to lose to Gonzaga (who are quietly looking solid this year) and a narrow loss to very good UCLA. Then they beat Penn. So a promising start for the 2006 national champions. Hopefully Brockway can get back onto the field for them in time for a playoff run.
F Nick Palodichuk (2 Goals)
A promising start for the Blue Devils, whose only loss was on the road against tough Maryland team. Palodichuk missed most of the first two games of the season (a draw with Rutgers and a win over Northeastern) but came back to start that Maryland game. Then he had the game winning goal in the next match — a 1-0 win over Georgia Southern. Then Duke drew Virginia Tech 1-1 at home. And in their last match, he scored again to tie the score 2-2 against Davidson in the 87th minute, before his forward partner Brody Huitema scored the overtime goal for the win. Tonight they host Syracuse with a chance to climb into the top half of the conference standings with a win.
After starting the season with two losses, the Bucknell Bison have won 4 in a row thanks to game winning goals in three straight games from Jesse Klug. Those three goals match his season total from last season. Why is he in the 'Other' section after that performance? That's crazy.
Jordan Schweitzer has apparently made the move to forward for Denver and he has an assist this season, but the Pioneers are struggling with only one win so far. Fortunately nobody else in the Summit League is winning either (seriously, look at the standings), so when they get to conference play they can still do some damage.
Last year, fullback Nick Raskasky started as a Freshman on a very strong West Virginia team, but he lost some of the year to injury. And unfortunately it looks like he'll be missing much of this season as well after going down injured in the team's first exhibition match. If he can come back this season, he'll join a Mountaineers team trying to replace Akron as the dominant power in the MAC.
Sam Langston is being used as an occasional sub for the Omaha Mavericks and he's tallied one assist so far. Maybe they should use him more, since they're 1-4-0 this season. Also struggling is Seattle U, who have yet to get a win in 6 tries despite three Sounders starting regularly. In Division 2, the SPU Falcons are flying high with three consecutive wins with a pack of Sounders on the roster, including Junior Evan Robicheau and Freshman Jeffrey Collings, son of head coach Mark Collings. Coach's sons always do well. Their most recent victory was over South Dakota School of Mimes. Well, that just seems too eas. . oh, school of MINES. Mines.
Finally, in the footsteps of Darwin Jones, Stefan 'the Banger' Bangsund is tearing it up at Highline. As is fellow Sounder goalkeeper Trevor Larson, who's third in the NWAACC in saves.
There are some other players on very good teams who look like they're going to be redshirted this year. Jalen Markey was making youth national teams last season in the Academy, but now he's on #1 ranked UNC and I'm guessing they're not in dire need of help there, so we might not see him on the field this season. It also looks like Jason McGlothern on #8 VCU will be held out this year, as will Mark Matula on Drexel, which is Jeff Parke's alma mater and they'll be happy to constantly remind you of that on their homepage, thanks.