Today offered us all another insight into the potential of the Seattle Sounders Academy. With a local "away" game it gave the Sounders crowd the opportunity for a display of passion in late January, and the ECS the opportunity to taunt some high school kids. The U-18 game wasn't just marred by the 2-1 result with Seattle's only goal coming from an own goal, but also marred by a scuffle that resulted in dual Red Cards to players on each team, as well as a Yellow Card to the Crossfire keeper. That Yellow was for wrapping his arms around a Sounders player's neck. While his intent may have been to pull two guys away from a fight, the result was a choking like move against the opposition. An odd Yellow to be sure.
But, more important than results, are how the Seattle players looked. This wasn't as special a match as the last between these two. With large segments of 10 on 10 it would be hard to judge.
Ryan Herman continues to impress. He's a strong keeper, with leadership beyond his age. Athletic with a broad frame his shot stopping should improve as he learns to read the game better. He is not a puncher but tries to catch a majority of balls.
Deandre Yedlin is listed as a forward, sits on defense as a right back, but on offense can appear in any channel except the far left. His dribbling is exceptional over a stretch of two games, and he has solid vision. He has a smaller frame, so plays a kind of safety position on set-plays (similar to James Riley). Deandre is quite fast, by any measure - agile, quick, whatever. Several times his speed was essential to get him back into position defensively on a counter. When the team went to 10 men the Sounders moved to a 3-3-1-2 and Yedlin played in the second band of three interchanging between the RM, CM and CAM roles until a hamstring cramp pulled him from the match.
This was my first opportunity to see Sean Okoli. His early first half play showed some great ball skills, vision and speed as a second striker. One play in particular seemed to be out of Steve Zakuani's bag of tricks when in middle of a step-over he used his off foot to nudge the ball towards the goal. In the second half when Seattle was down two goals another forward was added and the shape shifted to a more tradition diamond 4-4-2 with Okoli as a CAM. Okoli has a future in the league.
The U-16 game ended nil-nil, and while I would love to recap these players, the Sounder at Heart staff had some business to attend to and missed this game.