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Sounders Academy coach joins United States U17 staff

Mike Russell Foto

Othoniel "Junior" Gonzalez joined Seattle Sounders FC's Academy as the scout and U14 coach back in January. Today the club and US Soccer announced that the former Chivas USA assistant coach and UC Riverside head coach will be the head scout for the United States U17s.

His scouting efforts will focus on opposing team preparation, not discovering new American talent.

"It is a very humbling experience to get the opportunity to serve my country's team this way," said Gonzalez via press release. "I believe we have a very good chance to do well in this tournament even though we have a tough draw."

The Sounders organization is still working out how to best utilize Junior's talents.

"He's aware of the recruiting and the Academy age kids, but he also has a good eye for players who can make the jump into S2," Sounders Sporting Director Chris Henderson told Sounder at Heart recently. "He's been a good resource, and I think we can try to integrate him with how we're scouting for the first team. So at least he has a good idea what type of players we're looking at and we know what players he looks at, like ‘this guy could be a good fit in four years' maybe he can make the jump. It's so hard to predict at those ages whether a guy is going to pan out."

Integration between first team, S2 and the Academy at all levels is developing both on the coaching and scouting side of things.

"Adding Junior to what Kurt and I are doing so he's scouting for the Academy guys in the same fashion we are with the first team and S2," Henderson said. "He can be very important for the connection between S2 and the Academy."

Gonzalez will now be able to discover more talents that have the potential to be MLS players, as he helps the United States try to push past host Chile, defending U17 World Cup Champion Nigeria and Croatia. It's a tough Group Stage for the Americans, but one that will push and challenge the future stars of the USMNT.

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