PDL announced today that the Sounders U23's will host both semifinals and the PDL Championship game at Starfire. The semifinal double-header begins on Friday night at 6:00 PM, when New York Red Bulls U23 face Ocala Stampede. The Sounders U23's will face K-W United FC immediately following the first semifinal. The PDL Championship Game will be held at Starfire on Sunday at 2:00 PM.
This marks the second time this decade the PDL Championship will be held in the Puget Sound. Kitsap Pumas hosted in 2011, winning the title in front of their home fans. The Sounders U23's will be hoping to do the same.
Fans of the Sounders and Tacoma Stars will recognize plenty of familiar faces on the U23's roster. It includes former Sounders Academy players Paul Christensen, Chase Hanson, David Olsen, Troy Peterson, Isidro Prado-Huerta (who was also on the South Sound FC team that won the USASA U23 national championship earlier this month), Matt Reinikka, and Jordan Schweitzer. Tacoma Stars players on the Sounders U23 roster include Joey Gjertsen, Hanson, Derek Johnson, and Mark Lee.
Although Schweitzer and Prado-Huerta won't be with the U23's for the PDL Championship, several other HGP prospects will be, including Seyi Adekoya, Satoshi Chaffin, Justin Crichlow, and Jacob Hauser-Ramsey. Former MLS pool and Sounders first team goalkeeper Doug Herrick also plays for the U23's.
Last weekend, the U23's traveled to Tucson for the PDL Western Conference Championship after beating the Portland Timbers U23's 4-1 in the Northwest Division qualifier in Portland, behind goals from Guillermo Delgado, Olsen, Jonathan Campbell, and Johnson. Peterson and Gjertsen also provided assists.
In Tucson, the U23's Burlingame Dragons FC, the winners of the PDL Southwest Division, winning 1-0 on a 60th minute goal scored by Guillermo Delgado. In the Western Conference Final, the Sounders U23's faced host FC Tucson, fresh off a 4-1 win over previously unbeaten Northwest Division champion Kitsap Pumas.
In the final, the U23's wasted no time opening the scoring in the 2nd minute after Olsen sent in a low cross to Florian Valot, who forced the Tucson goalkeeper to make a save, which he couldn't control, finding Kento Sukura waiting at the far post to put the ball in the back of the net. Tucson managed to find an equalizer in the 36th minute. The Sounders U23's responded in the 72nd minute when Valot's corner found Peterson completely unmarked at the top of the 18. Peterson sent a low ball in, finding Campbell, who turned and slotted the ball past Tucson's goalkeeper, putting the U23's up 2-1.
The other 3 teams playing for the PDL Championship are Eastern Conference champion New York Red Bulls U23, Southern Conference champion Ocala Stampede, and Central Conference champion K-W United FC, the Sounders U23's semifinal opponent. Like in 2012, the U23's will face a team from Ontario, when they lost 3-2 in the semifinal to Forest City London. Unlike in 2012, the U23's will host the PDL Championship.