For the fourth year in a row (out of four years of existence) the Sounders Academy will be heading to the national academy playoffs. Of the eight teams the Sounders have fielded, all but one (the 2011-12 U18s) have advanced to the playoffs and twice (the 2010-11 U16s and last year's U18s) they've made the national finals, reserved for the top 8 of nearly 80 teams in each age group.
Each USSDA Playoff Group has four teams (non-qualifiers play in a showcase event) with seeds based on points per game played during the season. For the draw, each pot had eight teams. Every Academy that qualified was going to have a tough draw due to the fully seeded nature. Seattle Sounders FC's Academy was seeded as the best of Pot B at the U-18 level and the U-16s were in Pot C.
The U-18s (2.11 ppm) need to win a group with Real Salt Lake (2.19), Concorde Fire (1.83) and Indiana Fire (1.74). Seattle's 18s are essentially baby hydras. David Olsen, Satoshi (Yoshi) Chaffin and Adeseyi (Seyi) Adekoya all had 10 or more goals. Five others had six or more goals in their regular season. Concorde and RSL-AZ both are lead by singular potent scorers. The Indiana Fire are diverse, but not potent.
At the U-16 (1.78 ppm) the attack is less diverse. Forward Victor Mansaray netted 19 goals (good for 7th at the age group). He will lead Seattle against the PA Classics (2.12), Montreal Impact (2.04) and Strikers FC (1.70).
This year the tournament is near Indianapolis. The group stage games are played during the week of June 23, and teams that advance have the chance of hosting an elimination game in the first week of July, which means we could see an Academy playoff match at Starfire if the teams can advance out of their groups.