The Sounders Academy did well to send all three full-time age groups to the Development Academy playoffs, but they didn’t do as well as we might have hoped once they got there. The U-15s and U-17s both finished at the bottom of their groups, with the history-making U-17 not even managing to score a goal. The U-19s fared better, managing to reach the quarterfinals where they lost on penalties to Sockers FC. While the teams may not have fulfilled their promise, three players from the U-19 team were honored as the DA, for the first time in program history, named the best players in the playoffs and championships.
Sam Fowler, Blake Malone, and Ray Serrano were all named to the Boys Best XI for the West Conference. The Sounders and the LA Galaxy were the only boys academies to have three players featured on the list. All three Sounders players have spent time with various US Youth National Teams, and have benefited from exposure to professional environments, whether that’s with Tacoma Defiance or the Sounders first team. Serrano signed with Tacoma, then named S2, in 2018 and has appeared for the team four times since, in addition to spending much of preseason this year with the first team where he scored against Atlanta United in a friendly. Serrano is still only 17 years old, and was playing up an age group with the U-19s. Fowler has yet to sign a professional contract, but has played 90 minutes so far this season for Tacoma while also making a number of bench appearances. Malone, a CB, spent preseason with the first team. He has yet to play for Tacoma this season, but he’s made a number of bench appearances and played in six games for the team last season.
The Sounders weren’t the only Washington team to have their players recognized for their performances in the DA postseason, either. The Seattle Reign Academy U-15s and Crossfire Premier girls academy each had players named to the Best XI, and Reign goalkeeper Neeku Purcell was also named Girls Player of the Year for the West Conference. Purcell was named to the Best XI along with defenders Smith Hunter and Maddie Mooney of the Reign Academy, as well as defender Sally Menti, and forward Jennifer Estes of the Crossfire Premier U-19s.