SUMNER, Wash. (April 12, 2019) — As the Seattle Sounders U23s continue on their quest to develop top young players, doing so from the platform of North America’s top development league in USL League Two, they announced the signing of three underclassmen collegiate standouts on Friday: Josh Bauer, who just finished his sophomore season at University of New Hampshire, as well as freshmen Kendall Burks from CSU Bakersfield and Jack Sluys of Fordham University.
“A lot of attention gets focused on the players who sign professional contracts or get picked in the MLS SuperDraft from our team, and rightfully so,” Sounders U23 head coach Jason Prenovost said. “However, the earlier that we can identify these top talents and bring them into the fold, the better chance we feel we can give them to develop over a number of years into those eventual professionals.”
After starting all 22 matches and being the only field player at UNH to play every minute during his freshman season, Bauer followed that up with an even better 2018 campaign. He started all 18 games for the Wildcats and compiled a number of conference and regional accolades, including winning the 2018 America East Defender of the Year award and making the conference First Team.
Bauer also made the America East All-Tournament Team and was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. The United Soccer Coaches First Team All-Northeast Region selection also earned himself a spot as a Second Team All-American after his two-goal, three-assist season.
Burks comes to the U23s as a local player from Stadium High School in Tacoma and Washington Premier FC, which he led to four state championships. As a freshman at CSUB in 2018, Burks played every minute at center back for the roadrunners and was named to the All-WAC Freshman Team.
Finally, though Sluys is a freshman in college, he has more experience than the typical first-year college player after taking a gap year before committing to Fordham. The Gig Harbor native played for the Kitsap Pumas in the National Premier Soccer League in 2018, coached by Sounders U23 assistant coach Liviu Bird, where he started and played nearly every minute at center back.
At Fordham, Sluys was one of two freshmen to play in all 17 games for the Rams, comprising part of a back line that kept six clean sheets and posted a 0.95 goals-against average. He also scored two goals and added two assists to complement his defensive contributions in a solid first college season.
All player signings are pending league and federation approval.
The Sounders U23 team has played in USL League Two for the past seven seasons and has helped over 60 players move on to professional contracts. The U23s are the amateur affiliate of 2016 MLS Cup champion Seattle Sounders FC and Tacoma Defiance. The 2019 Sounders U23 season kicks off with a weekend doubleheader on May 17 and 19 against the defending national champion Calgary Foothills FC and Lane United, respectively.