The Seattle Sounders are about to sign their third Official Youth Club Partner outside of the state of Washington. The club will be signing a deal with Merced Atlas Soccer Academy on Sunday. This is the same day that Merced’s academy will be celebrating Dia del Niño, Children’s Day, a widely celebrated day in Latin America.
The academy was most recently affiliated with Club Atlas of Guadalajara, Mexico. Currently, their color scheme is red-and-black, the same as Club Atlas, but will be replaced with Sounders green-and-blue once the deal becomes finalized.
“This will bring a lot of opportunities for the community,” said Fernando Aguilera, president of the Merced soccer academy when speaking with the Merced Sun-Star. “It’s real hard to switch countries when they’re young and leave the family.”
“The Seattle Sounders are a winning team, and Merced is lucky to be affiliated with them,” Merced Mayor Mike Murphy said. “The Merced Soccer Academy has been a top-notch organization with a solid reputation for emphasizing player character and integrity. The coaches have made sure that players have skills on the field and in school. Clearly, the Sounders saw that devotion with the players and the coaches and decided that this was the team they wanted to join their organization.”
The Sounders already have a connection with the Merced area. Last Summer, Seattle signed Axel Ramirez and Alfonso Ocampo Chavez. Chavez is currently with the U15 boy’s national team. He is playing in a tournament in Europe and scored the opening goal in the team’s 4-0 win over Slovenia.
By adding the academy as an official youth partner, the Sounders are expanding their reach even more in Central California. The Central California Aztecs, one of the Sounders current affiliates in California, includes 45 teams and a competitive academy program from the U12 level through U18.