TUKWILA, WA— (club release) The defending Western Conference Champions, Sounders U23, held tryouts over March 19th and 20th at Sunset Stadium in Sumner, Washington. Over 90 players competed over the 2-day event looking to make their mark and find a spot on the Sounders U23 roster. Players came in from as far away as Delaware, Maryland from within the United States, and as far away as Austria from across the globe.
The Sounders U23 team operates as the amateur affiliate to the Sounders 2 and Sounders FC first teams. DeAndre Yedlin, Sean Okoli, Darwin Jones, Aaron Kovar, Jordan Schweitzer, and Jordan Morris all spent time playing in the Sounders U23 before signing with Sounders FC as homegrown players. Over the past four years, the Sounders U23 has helped over 45 different players sign professional contracts littering the professional leagues within the United States and around the world. Jonathan Campbell is already making his mark at the Chicago Fire early in the MLS season after playing this past summer for the Sounders U23 and gaining PDL All League accolades.
“The U23 Sounders was a great experience for me as I wanted to be around a professional environment. Darren recruited a great group of guys that were able to bond together and do well in the playoffs. The practice sessions were focused and intense, providing us with opportunities to grow and prepare,” said Campbell.
The Sounders U23 team operates with the Player First Initiative and helps players further develop as they head into the professional game. The tryout process is another avenue in player selection as young players look to make that jump.
“Our tryouts bring in a lot of players each year as most young players are looking to get to the MLS level,” explained Darren Sawatzky, Sounders U23 Head Coach and General Manager, “Each year we find a player or two that makes the roster and some have excelled beyond Sounders U23 into the professional game. This is the goal of our programming with the Sounders U23 team.”
In 2014, Zev Taulieb came in from Valpraiso University and made the team through the open tryout process. He started the season as a training player, quickly moved into a playing role, and by the end of the season, was starting for Sounders U23. Taulieb has since signed professional contracts and has played for the Sacramento Republic and the Wilmington Hammerheads respectively. Taulieb has also gone through training camp with MLS side Toronto FC.
The tryouts completed on Sunday in Sumner with a few news faces getting an opportunity at playing for the PDL side this summer.
“As is the case with all players, development never stops. We will do everything we can to help these players get the opportunity to play, but the work really starts now for them,” said Sawatzky, “We do not start training until May when the college players arrive so these players have an opportunity to get fit and ready for the short camp.”
The Sounders U23 team starts pre-season with a game at the Bellingham United FC Hammers on Friday, May 6th at 7pm. The US Open Cup competition starts on May 11th with the opponent yet to be determined, and PDL league play starts on May 22nd at Sunset Stadium in Sumner as the Sounders U23 host Crossfire PDL at 2pm. Tickets are available at http://www.soundersu23.com. Come check out the future of soccer in America!