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May Sounders Academy Update

We're overdue in taking a look at how the Seattle Sounders youth are faring in the Academy. Last season was Seattle's first in the USSDA League and, surprising to no one, both the U18 and U16 teams were very competitive from day one. Both teams won the Northwest Division and made the Academy playoffs, with the U16s advancing to Finals Week and eventually finishing 5th in the country out of 78 teams.

This season the U16 team is picking up where last season's left off despite the very competitive Vancouver Whitecaps joining the division. Seattle is the top goalscoring team in the division running away with 42 goals — Vancouver is second with 30 — and has allowed only 14 — second best to the Whitecaps' 8. The team has already clinched a playoff berth with 3 games left in the season and is competing with only Vancouver for the division title. That may be decided on the final game on June 3 when those two teams face off in Vancouver.

It's notable that they've accomplished all of this without one of their best players. Goalkeeper Paul Christensen is nominally a Sounders U16 player but he hasn't actually suited up for the team because he's been with the U17 national team in training and a series of international tours. You can catch up with that team in this article from TopDrawerSoccer (Christensen is the keeper in the accompanying photo). Their next action is a May 10 game against the Dynamo Academy.

The U18 team has comparatively struggled as they attempt to recover from a pitiless run from December to April that saw them lose 6 of their 8 games. Fortunately most of those losses came out of divisional play, which means they still have an outside shot to make the playoffs as one of the top two teams in the division. First is out of reach as only one divisional game remains and Vancouver is 4 points ahead. But they're 3 points behind De Anza Force and 3 behind them in goal differential, so a win in the final divisional game against Vancouver and a Force loss to Cal Odyssey could put them through.

Both teams play at Starfire this weekend in non-divisional games against LA Galaxy and Chivas USA. No playoff implications, but it's the last chance to see them this season and I'm sure they'd appreciate your support.

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