While the U-18s and U-16s were playing their first matches on the road down in California over the weekend, both splitting, the biggest news concerning Seattle Sounders youth players would be the call-up of Paul Christensen to the US U-17 Fall Residency. Why haven't you heard of Christensen yet? Because he is part of the pre-Academy though eligible to play for the U-16s he's still young for that level. The goal of the Fall Residency is to prepare players for the 2013 CONCACAF U-17 Championship and qualification for the 2013 U-17 World Cup.
Travis M Clark notes the following about Christensen;
I saw Sounders FC goalkeeper Paul Christensen compete with Sounders FC in Frisco, Texas in July. He’s certainly has plenty of potential and was awarded the Golden Gloves in the U-15 showcase group that featured eight MLS teams.
He cautioned against too much excitement over a chat reminding me that Keepers bloom late, and this youngster is 3 years from college still. But for Christensen himself this can only help, especially when noting the number of people who've gone onto pro and USMNT careers from Bradenton.
Seattle Sounders Youth Director Darren Sawatzky noted the following about Christensen at the team's site;
At the end of the day, our ultimate job is to place on the first team. We have to do whatever it takes to put our players in environments where they have the best opportunity to get there," Sawatzky said. "Sending Paul away as a 15-year-old to residency in Bradenton is a good step in his development. Down the road, I’d like to have him here in our Academy, but if the kid gets a chance to play in a World Cup, that’s good for everybody. And hopefully you see him in rave green one day.
Our pre-season look at the newcomers to the U-18s noted only a smattering of players without time working with Richard McCormick and Darren Sawatzky. On average those youngsters saw limited time, which shouldn't be a surprise. The backbone of the U-18s will be the returning players.
The scoring punch was provided by returnees Dominick Dismuke, Ian Lange and Darren Pederson. Keenan Townsend stepped up to the place formerly occupied by Ryan Herman in the pipes. Aaron Kovar didn't score, but reports suggest he was greatly involved in teh game. Those familiar names will get even more so over the year.
At the U-16 level with players much further away from either college or pro contracts, unless you get discovered by Arsenal, the prospects are much harder to judge. Most of the team would qualify for the U-18s next year. Except for Abdi Abdullah a '96er who already has two appearances with the U-16s (95) with a goal.
The best way to judge these talents is to see them play and train as much as possible. For fans of the Sounders their next opportunity will be October 2nd against Crossfire in Redmond, WA at 4:30 (U-18s) and 7 (U-16s). The cold months of the MLS off-season will see Seattle at home in December.