This past weekend was a busy one for non-First Team starters in the Sounders organization, which left Seattle Sounders FC 2 very shorthanded for their trip to Sandy, Utah. Not only did the First Team poach some S2 players for their friendly against Eintracht Frankfurt, but the Academy U18s played 120’ in a USSDA national quarterfinal on Friday night. This left S2 reaching deep into the Academy looking for players who could start against Real Monarchs SLC. Sam Fowler (16-years-old), Khia Brisco (16), Dylan Teves (17), Cameron Martin (17), Paul Rothrock (18), and Alfonso Ocampo Chavez (15) all made their first appearances for S2 while Kei Tomozawa (18) made his first appearance this season and Jackson Ragen (18) made his second.
This made for a tough task against a Monarchs team that has been tearing up the USL, and the recently set USL record loss (LAG II 0-9 Reno) seemed perilously in range for S2. The Academy players had different plans however, and put in a very respectable shift to keep the scoreline to a more pedestrian 1-4.
S2 started the game pretty well and were able to keep it scoreless through some quality last ditch tackles and a couple of poor finishes from the Monarchs, but a little moment of brilliance from Sebastián Suacedo got the Monarchs on the board. In the 31’ Suacedo drove with purpose towards the box and as he approached the top of the 18, performed a deft little chip to lift the ball over two S2 challenges. After that he was free in the box and slid it calmly past Fowler into the far side netting.
It looked like S2 might make it to halftime down just the one goal but a couple of lapses in the closing minutes cost them. In the 40’ S2 left Monarchs’ danger man Chandler Hoffman free near the six-yard-box on a corner. He was able to gather a weak header and had ages to turn and shoot it into the goal from yards out. In stoppage time, the Monarchs added their third when a simple pass saw Max Lachowecki in on goal where he was able to beat Fowler with a simple finish.
Things easily could have fallen apart from their but Coach Ezra Hendrickson was able to refocus the team at halftime and the youngsters came out and played a very respectable 1-1 second half.
The Monarchs got the first goal in the second half when a Suacedo shot took a nasty deflection that left Fowler hopeless as the ball caromed into the roof of the net. S2 were able to get one back in the 77’ with Paul Rothrock’s first professional goal. Rothrock found a loose ball on in the box and was able to finish from a tight angle.
Though the game ended 4-1, it is a result the youngsters should absolutely be proud of, and hopefully the organization lets them know that.
Sam Fowler; Lorenzo Ramos, Riley Grant, Khai Brisco, Christian Koontz; Dylan Teves, Cameron Martin (Jackson Ragen 67'), David Olsen, Charles Renken (Paul Rothrock 67'), Camilo Santiago (Kei Tomozawa 78'); Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez
This match showed just how far the Academy has come in the last five years. I doubt S2 could have run out a team with this many U16 Academy players in their first year and remained competitive with any USL team, let alone one of the best in the league.
While none of them looked near ready for the first team right now, the fact that there are 10+ Academy players who don’t look out of place in the USL is an extremely good sign for the future of the Sounders organization.
Khai Brisco (CB/RB)
Of the Academy players who made their professional debut, Brisco is the one that really stood out, and the one who might have a shot at getting time with a first choice S2 lineup sooner than later. He played the majority of the game at centerback and did so very well. He was all over the place, putting out fires. His ability to cover for his teammates’ mistakes was what kept the Monarchs scoreless for the first third of the game.
His defensive stats were off the charts. He had five recoveries, two tackles, four clearances and six interceptions. He was fantastic defensively. He is severely undersized at CB at the moment, but he is only 16 and it is hard to say how big he will end up. His size will keep him from seeing more CB time with S2 in the present, but he could see some time at right back. He moved there late in the game and looked pretty good. S2 are limited at RB when Denso Ulysse is out, so there is certainly space for a quick young player with unbelievable defensive instincts like Brisco.
First Team call up power rankings
- Ray Saari (-)
- Irvin Parra (-)
- Rodrigue Ele(-)
- Sam Rogers (-)
- Lorenzo Ramos (-)