It is September and that means the start of a fresh season of football on green fields across the face of the US. What? No, not the NFL you heathen. I'm obviously referring to college soccer. We're two weeks in and most teams have played at least three games. So it's time to peek in on how the Sounders have been performing.
This season is the first in which we'll see Sounder seniors. Three long years ago, the first tender crop of Sounders Academy graduates spread their wings and leapt out of the Academy cocoon (to destroy some metaphors). And Sounder at Heart was there. Now that class has been significantly whittled down. DeAndre Yedlin is on the first team (and soon to Tottenham). Same with Sean Okoli. The Nick Palodichuk situation got weird and I'm fairly confident now that he's no longer HGP-eligible. Some guys red-shirted to get an extra year. The marquee seniors still in the game and playing this season are Darwin Jones at UW and Troy Peterson at College of Charleston. I'd expect the Sounders to HGP at least one of them, though there are underclassmen (*cough* Morris *cough*) who will also be vying for Homegrown contracts.
Sr F Darwin Jones (3 Goals, 2 Assists), Jr(RS) GK Ryan Herman (1 GS, 0 saves), Jr M/D Ian Lange, Jr D Michael Gallagher, Jr F Jimmy Oganga, So F Dom Dismuke, Fr F Henry Wingo (Assist)
Coming into their most anticipated season in program history (after a deep run into the NCAA tournament last season), the Huskies remain the most high profile Sounder school both for the prestige of the team and the number of Sounders on the roster.
That number's up to 7 now (or more, depending on how you track academy grads. My number's 7). The most prominent is Darwin Jones, who's reportedly been flirting with an HGP deal since last year. He started this season on fire, scoring a brace in a season opening 4-0 demolition of Gonzaga. Then he picked up a goal and an assist in their 4-1 derby win over Seattle University. And he assisted their lone goal in a 2-1 loss to St Mary's this weekend.
In goal, the big news is that Spencer Richey has come back for a final year after losing most of last season to a broken leg and being granted a redshirt year. That makes things slightly awkward for Sounder Ryan Herman, who manned the net last season but now is back in competition with the best (men's) keeper in program history. Head coach Jamie Clark made noises that it'd be a true competition, but I'm not sure many people believed it. That is, until Herman started the game against Seattle. The Huskies won that game, but Herman didn't make any saves, so it's not clear if he helped his position.
Juniors Lange and Gallagher are now mainstays on the team and if they stay healthy should be near-every-game starters. And finally there's a trio of attacking players — Oganga, Dismuke, and the Freshman Wingo. It looks like they're all going to get minutes this season, mostly as subs, and will have to try to play their way into heavier rotation. So far advantage Wingo, who picked up an assist in the win over Seattle.
This weekend the Huskies host UConn and Penn hoping to get their season righted after the stumble against St Marys
So F Jordan Morris (Goal, Assist)
Last season's Pac-12
Freshman of the Year All-Pac-12 First Teamer is back with the Cardinal, but there are legitimate questions as to how long he can hold out from the pro game after being called up to the senior US national team squad for a friendly this month.
Stanford started the season ranked, but lost their opener to Creighton 2-0. Then they came back with an overtime win over minnows Nebraska Omaha while Morris was away in Europe. With him back last weekend, they beat San Jose State 2-0 in the Cardinal's home opener, with the Sounder scoring one goal and assisting the other.
On Tuesday they face UC Santa Barbara (featuring a few more Sounders) at home. It's their last match against a strong opponent in a surprisingly weak non-conference schedule, so they'll want to get a result to prove they're still a national contender before conference play begins in October.
Fr F Seyi Adekoya (Goal, 2 Assists)
In a conference rife with Seattle talent, who won your Pac-12 player of the week in week one? Jones? Morris? No, it was the true freshman Adekoya, our first Sounder at the perennial contender where Sigi Schmid first made his name winning national titles. In their season opener Adekoya scored the third goal as a sub in the Bruins' 3-1 win over then-#11 Wake Forest (recently home to Sean Okoli). Then in the next match he assisted the only goal in their 1-0 win over fellow powerhouse North Carolina. That earned him his first start, and he assisted their only goal in the next game, which was an overtime upset loss to lowly American University. On Sunday, the Bruins got back on track with a 2-1 road win over #6 New Mexico. This weekend they have a pair of home games against Santa Clara and Cal Poly. Adekoya's likely to be a bench player for most of his first season, but becoming such a big part of the offense so early for such a marquee team is a huge step for his college career.
Jr M Jordan Schweitzer (Goal)
Denver opened their season with two wins, including one over ranked Navy, which propelled them into the top 25 rankings. Then they lost the next two, but have managed to hold onto the #25 ranking. Schweitzer doesn't get as much press as the Academy forwards, but he's well respected by the Sounders coaches as a two-way midfielder. He leads the team in fouls by a lot, but also scored a goal in their recent 3-4 loss at San Diego State (more on that in a sec). Next up they host Oakland and New Hampshire this weekend.
San Diego State
Fr F David Olsen (3 Goals), So GK Keenan Townsend
The Pac-12 Player of the Week for week 2 was also a Sounder. Was it Jones? Morris.. okay, that's getting old. No! It was freshman David Olsen, who last season was the leading scorer for the Sounders U18s. The Aztecs opened the season with a 1-0 loss to Bakersfield, but have won their next three. Olsen didn't figure in a 1-0 win over Buffalo, but he scored the game-winning PK in a 2-1 win over Clemson and then scored twice in that 4-3 win over Denver. Olsen started all four games as he's quickly become an integral part of an offense that's looking to contend in a tough Pac-12 this season.
Townsend had a couple of starts at the end of last season, no doubt hoping to take over in net after the graduation of Blake Hylen. But so far all four starts have gone to redshirt Freshman Adam Allmaras. If the team continues to play as well as they have in front of Allmaras, Townsend is going to struggle to find playing time once again.
This weekend the Aztecs host Wright State and Pacific, trying to get a head of steam before the rough Pac-12 schedule starts.
Fr GK Paul Christensen (3 GA, 12 Sv)
Coming off a season at the US national team academy at Bradenton followed by a very good year as the #1 for the Sounders U18s, Christensen chose to brave enemy territory when he committed to play for the Portland Pilots. The Pilots have faded a bit after the Clive Charles-run glory days of the early aughts when they made the NCAA Tournament every season (powered by Sounder legend Nate Jaqua) and before that the early 90s when they made the national semis twice (powered by Sounder legend Kasey Keller). But they haven't made the tournament since 2009 and have finished with a losing record for two seasons in a row.
So far their 2014 looks like it's going to be tough as well, especially if they can't find a way to score. They won their opener 1-0 thanks to a Christensen shutout, then drew 1-1 and 0-0 before losing 0-2 to South Florida last weekend. Christensen's done well enough to take over the starting job as a true Freshman, but with only 2 goals scored in 4 games there are hints that it'll be a long season. Next up they play Duquesne and Siena this weekend in Oregon State's invitational.
So F Michael Steele (Assist), Fr(RS) D Jalen Markey
After getting youth national team callups Markey was recruited to national power North Carolina last season, but he was redshirted his first season and didn't get on the field. Now he's transferred closer to home at Oregon State and he's played every minute of the Beavers' season on the back line. Sophomore Steele is a regular starter at forward and picked up an assist in a 3-1 opening season win. The Beavers have now won 3 of 4 to get some momentum before trying to survive the Pac-12 gauntlet.
Denis Kalamar, who was one of the top goalscorers in the Academy system in 2013, graduated early to join up with UCSB for their spring season and he's picked up some substitute minutes for a team that's getting some Top 25 votes. He joins Junior defender Brandon Brockway, who's a regular starter on the Gauchos back line.
Troy Peterson and Ike Crook are working to help the College of Charleston recover from a historically bad season. They've opened with 2 wins and 2 losses away from home, with Peterson picking up an assist in their last win over North Florida.
Junior Jesse Klug, who last season became the lynchpin of the Bucknell offense, is at it again this season. He has two goals off of a conference-leading 26 shots, which is more than three teams in the Patriot League have earned. Both of his goals were game winners and the Bison have won three of their five matches.