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Sounders Academy looking good in MLS Next Cup

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U17s move on to quarterfinals after beating Chicago Fire, 3-0.

Juan Alvarez celebrates a goal in preseason with the fist team.
Photo courtesy of Sounders FC

It’s been a bit since we’ve heard much about the exploits of the Sounders Academy, due in no small part to games being hard to come by over the past year. But with the demise of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy and the rise of MLS Next, that promises to change.

The Sounders sent their U15s and U17s to the MLS Next Cup this week, and results have been good so far. The U15s have gone 1-0-1 in two showcase games — they didn’t qualify for the playoffs — with a 3-2 win over FC Boston Bolts and a 2-2 tie with Florida’s Weston FC. They’re facing the St. Louis FC Academy today.

The U17s, though, are off to an even better start. They just qualified for the quarterfinals of the playoffs after a pair of 3-0 wins, one over Philadelphia’s FC Delco and another against the Chicago Fire Academy.

The win over the Fire included an assist from Tacoma Defiance player Obed Vargas and a goal by Juan Alvarez. Vargas and Alvarez also scored in the first game.

Alvarez’s goal was particularly impressive as he slalomed through the Fire defense in a way that was reminiscent of Obafemi Martins’ goal against the Portland Timbers in 2014.

That’s not obviously meant as a comparison to Martins, but it is a reminder that Brian Schmetzer has been very complimentary of the 16-year-old Alvarez, who spent much of preseason with the Sounders and even scored a goal against the San Diego Loyal.

The U17s next play LAFC on Tuesday with a spot in the semifinals on the line.