(Sounders U23 release) The Sounders U23 wrapped up a successful 2016 campaign with a loss at Calgary Foothills on July 19th. The game represented the PDL NW Division play-in game to get to the Western Conference Championship weekend. The Sounders U23 were the 2015 Western Conference Champions following a long line of Northwest dominance in the PDL. Calgary Foothills, after beating the Sounders U23 team, won the 2016 Western Conference Championship this past weekend to ensure a PDL NW Division team in the PDL semi-finals for the 8th year running. (Cover photo: Guillermo Delgado celebrates a goal.)
In the PDL NW Division Conference play in game, Calgary and the Sounders U23 team were knotted at 1-1 with 20 minutes remaining in the game as Derek Johnson was tackled from behind resulting in a penalty kick for the Sounders U23. Andrew Wheeler-Ominu stepped up but the shot was saved back into play and Wheeler-Ominu knocked the ball over the net on the rebound. The game ended 1-1 and headed into overtime. A mistake across the back line resulted in a goal for Calgary to make it 1-2 and Calgary sealed the game late with a third goal as the Sounders U23 chased the game. A solid year ended bittersweet for the Sounders U23 but the goal of helping develop players and help them move on to higher levels is intact with Ash Appollon, Adam West, and Frank Tayou all signing professional contracts mid-season after training and playing with the Sounders U23 this summer. Many more players will make the jump in the coming months after the college seasons end.
“We fell short of getting to the Western Conference Championships this year, but our philosophy of Player’s First is intact,” said Darren Sawatzky, Sounders U23 Head Coach and General Manager, “We will see players drafted and signing professional contracts following the fall college season and we are happy to have helped them on their ascension to the professional game.”
Five players that have suited up for the Sounders U23 team are named on the Herman Trophy watch list for fall of 2016. The Herman Trophy goes to the top college player in America each fall for male soccer players. Chris Wingate, Guillermo Delgado and local homegrown players David Olsen and Kyle Bjornethun have made the list. Chris Wehan, who played for the Sounders U23 team in 2014 has also been named.
The 2016 season will be remembered by the top play of local players and players from around the country with the Sounders U23 making the playoffs again. The goal is to help players develop and win trophies, in that order, as this team represents the development affiliation on the amateur side to S2 and Sounders FC.
Andrew Wheeler-Ominu and Daniel Smith from Harvard played significant roles this summer and both will look to make the jump to the professional game in 2016. Jose Aguinaga from Rider University also made his presence known along with fellow Spaniard, Guillermo Delgado from Delaware, serving his second stint in the Northwest. Jakob Granlund from Gonzaga launched onto the scene with goals from every conceivable angle and Jalen Crisler, also from Gonzaga, was solid at the back. Local homegrown products, David Olsen, Sam Langston, and Kyle Bjornethun from Seattle University will work to replicate their success again this fall. The goalkeeping core was top notch as Paul Christensen from Portland and Jeff Caldwell from Virginia manned the nets. With Troy Peterson and Chase Hanson leading the young team, the year will be viewed as a success. In short, the names on the 2016 roster will appear again on higher level rosters in the short term following their final college seasons.
The PDL NW Division has won the Western Conference Championship 8 years in a row and has had two national champions in the past 9 years. As we put the 2016 season to rest for the Sounders U23 team, we wish Calgary Foothills the very best in their quest for a PDL National Championship and we wish all of the players that suited up for the U23 Rave Green the very best as they chase the path to professional soccer.
Stay tuned for information about the Sounders U23 team as we build the roster for 2017 and again work to help develop players for the next level. For information about the club, please go to http://www.soundersu23.com.