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16-year-old Obed Vargas named to US U20 team

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Vargas is the second-youngest player included on this roster.

Obed Vargas Charis Wilson / Courtesy of Sounders FC

Obed Vargas was named to the upcoming United States U20 training camp on Monday, making him the second-youngest player to earn that call. This is one of the first camps in anticipation of the 2023 U20 World Cup, and the 16-year-old Vargas is one of just three who will also be eligible for the 2025 tournament.

It was only about two years ago that Vargas was playing for a relatively nondescript club in Alaska, a state that has only produced two other MLS players. Vargas was first spotted by Sounders scouts in 2017 while he helped lead his ODP team to a surprising championship while playing up a year. He then earned a spot on the Sounders Academy through a tryout, moved to Seattle as a 14-year-old, signed his first professional contract with the Tacoma Defiance last May, became the third-youngest player to ever appear in an MLS game on July 22, and then signed as a Sounders Homegrown Player last December.

“He’s adapted to every level he’s been pushed into and he’s doing pretty well so far with the first team,” Sounders Director of Player Development Henry Brauner told Sounder at Heart. “It’s early and we have to have patience, but he’s in the right path and trajectory like so many of our young players coming through.”

Vargas has played mostly as a 6 or an 8 for the Defiance, and has impressed coaches with his on-the-ball strength and engine.

“I’m a player who works a lot,” Vargas told reporters recently. “I want to win the ball back and go forward.”

Vargas is also eligible to represent Mexico through his parents, who immigrated to Alaska for work. The Mexican federation apparently reached out to Vargas’ father about potentially joining them, but were told that he’d already committed to the USA — at least for this camp.