Seattle Sounders U17s Dominate DA Playoffs and Earn Semifinal Spot in 2018 Academy Championships
The Seattle Sounders U17 finished the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Playoffs atop Group C with nine points from three matches. Then the team defeated Columbus Crew SC to advance to the Semifinals in Kansas City. This is the 11th season for the Boys DA and the journey to this championship started nearly a year ago when the U17 DA season kicked off.
Youth Soccer News: The Seattle Sounders Academy has a well deserved first-class reputation for developing elite soccer players. With a list of 13 homegrown players, including DeAndre Yedlin who proudly plays for Tottenham Hotspur FC and alumni at prestigious colleges all across America including Stanford, UCLA, Harvard, SDSU, Wake Forest, University of Washington, Seattle Sounders is a hard club to beat.
Literally and figuratively.
Top of the West U17 Conference Northwest Division, the Seattle Sounders ended the U.S. Soccer Development Academy season with 27 wins and only 3 losses and ranked #2 seed in the Playoff Pool behind only FC Dallas. As champions of the Generation adidas Cup Premier Division, this U17 team plays beautiful soccer and has an impressive track record.
In the DA Playoffs, the team took on Concorde Fire, winning with a final score of 4-1, then earned another victory, defeating Sporting Kansas City 6-1 and finally faced Pateadores scoring a triumphant 5-1 result when the final whistle blew.
The Sounders went on to challenge the Crew SC in the Quarterfinals, earning another 3-1 win.
Is it their defense or their offense that earns them these wins? From the sidelines, it appears to be the combination of a lethal attacking force combined with titanium defense.
The next step to the U.S. Soccer Development Academy 2018 Championship is on Sunday, July 8 in Kansas City when Seattle meets Barca Academy at Swope Soccer Park to see which team will leave the field to advance to the DA final.
GoalNation’s Diane Scavuzzo interviewed Marc Nicholls, Seattle Sounders Academy Technical Director and Chris Little, Academy Director of Coaching and the head coach for the U17s on their impeccable record.
Marc Nicholls is two-time U.S. Academy Coach of the Year and holds a USSF National “A” License, the FIFA Futuro III program, as well as the prestigious French Formation License. Nicholls is also a national staff member for U.S. Soccer.
Chris Little is the former Director of Coaching and Player Development for North Carolina Youth Soccer Association and a longtime collegiate coach. Both Nicholls and Little have years of high-level experience developing homegrown players and a successful track record but what do they believe led to the U17s successful year?
Diane Scavuzzo: Congratulations on making the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Playoffs’ Semifinals and punching your ticket to 2018 Academy Championships in Kansas City. How are you preparing your team for the upcoming challenge?
Chris Little: Our first focus was on the recovery of the players. We played 4 games in 9 days during the DA Playoffs and Quarterfinal. So getting the players’ recovered and their freshness back was very important and then we turned our attention to getting match-prep for a difficult opponent in Barca Academy.
Diane Scavuzzo: You have built one of the most accomplished DA’s in the country — what is your philosophy on player development?
Marc Nicholls: We strive to develop intelligent and autonomous players who can adjust and adapt to the ever-changing demands of the game.
We are firm in the belief that good kids can make great players.
Diane Scavuzzo: How would you describe your team’s style of play?
Chris Little: Attacking, high tempo with a focus on the individual within the collective.
Diane Scavuzzo: As your U17s prepare for the DA semifinal in Kansas City, what advice would you give to your players — or any player who has reached this level of competition?
Marc Nicholls: In order to make the most of the opportunity it’s so important to be yourself. You must embrace and relish the pressure, and of course, do your best to win the event.
Diane Scavuzzo: What do you look for as a coach when scouting players?
Chris Little: There are a lot of talented players in this country and we have a clear identity and game model. When scouting, we look for specific attributes in specific positions.
However, some general attributes that we hope to be consistent across positional profiles would be
Humility, intelligence, and autonomy, with a hunger and desire to improve.
Diane Scavuzzo: Last August, when the season started, did you expect to reach the DA Semifinals?
Chris Little: No. I knew we had a young but talented group and it has been great watching them grow and develop over the year.
Diane Scavuzzo: Why do you believe your program has been so successful?
Marc Nicholls: Support from ownership and senior management, a sense of togetherness, and a great staff.
Diane Scavuzzo: What has been your greatest challenge this season?
Chris Little: Managing the group to continue to focus on the individual within the collective.
There is consistently a lot of moving parts with players on national team duty or with S2/1st Team.
So the management of player movement and the needs of the individual players within the team is a good challenge
Diane Scavuzzo: As the DA has launched their new, more competitive grouping for next year — what are your thoughts? Where your games competitive enough this year?
Marc Nicholls: It’s the same level of competition for us but with fewer games. It doesn’t take the steps that we fully need in order to accelerate development at the necessary rate.
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