Seattle Sounders U-15/16 Team Faces Big Test Before Playoffs
Seattle Sounders U-15/16 head coach Dick McCormickâ€™s side was the first U.S. Soccer Development Academy team to qualify for the postseason over the April 14-15 weekend. But McCormick said the major test for this team will be the upcoming regular-season stretch before the Academy Playoffs.
The Sounders wrap up the regular season with May matches against Real Salt Lake AZ, the LA Galaxy and Chivas USA, followed by a June match against this past weekendâ€™s playoff-clinching Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
â€œItâ€™s the perfect scenario to see how good we are for the playoffs,â€ McCormick said. â€œI think we have to get better and be prepared for those four games. We donâ€™t know how good we are, and this will be a measuring stick. I talked to my kids about this. We have to get better if we want to be the best. Our goal was not to just qualify for the playoffs. Our goal is to win a national championship.â€
The Sounders lead the Development Academyâ€™s Northwest Division with a 10-2-1 record (15-5-2 overall) and 31 points and they resume league play on May 6 at Real Salt Lake AZ.
The trademark of this team has been offensive stability. Seattle has 42 goals in 13 division games and 58 goals in 22 overall matches â€“ far-and-away the top offensive output among West Conference teams. And the contributors come from a variety of areas.
â€œWeâ€™re definitely getting goals from a lot of different places,â€ McCormick said. â€œNobody has more than 10 goals, and that is a testament to our balance.â€
Denis Kalamar leads the Sounders with eight goals, Duncan McCormick and Isidro Prado-Huerta have seven apiece, and seven other players have three or more goals this season.
In closing the regular season, McCormickâ€™s main attention is driven toward the defensive end.
â€œDefense is a massive part of our focus right now,â€ McCormick said. â€œYes, we can score, but there are times when we havenâ€™t been as sharp around our goal defensively. For the last month, we have been focusing on our playersâ€™ transition into the defensive end, and our last two games were shutouts (a 5-0 win at the San Jose Earthquakes and a 3-0 victory at Cal Odyssey).â€
The Northwest corridor is abuzz on the Major League Soccer level with the Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps drawing some of the leagueâ€™s biggest crowds. McCormick said the local rivalry feeling is evident at the Academy level, as well.
â€œThe rivalries are unbelievable around here,â€ McCormick said. â€œItâ€™s a lot of fun for the kids to be in big games, even if they might not mean much to the standings. The big-game feeling is great for the players. I think the Northwest area gets overlooked, but if you look at some of the higher levels, a lot of guys have made it from the area.â€
McCormick certainly has the pulse of the soccer landscape in the Seattle area. The 43-year-old Seattle native and former midfielder played for the likes of the A-Leagueâ€™s Seattle Sounders and indoor teams such as the Canton Invaders and Seattle SeaDogs. McCormick then served as a coach at various capacities, such as the W-Leagueâ€™s Sounders from 2002-04 and at the youth level for more than the past decade, including the girls coaching director position for Crossfire Premier.
â€œIâ€™m proud coaching the Sounders Academy teams and I love coaching the top kids,â€ McCormick said. â€œWeâ€™re getting most of the top area talent now, and what we have as far as resources to help an already talented kid make himself great. We have great integration with the U-23 team that we have, the Reserve Team with the Sounders, and my U-15/16 players are regularly playing up for theÂ U-17/18 team. Iâ€™m happy to be around professional soccer and this organization.â€
U-15/16 Additional Notes:
- Forward Michael Steele verbally committed to play collegiately at Oregon State.
- Goalkeeper Paul Christensen recently traveled with the U.S. U-17 Menâ€™s National Team to France as the team took fifth place at the 40th Mondial Minimes.
- Dick McCormick won A-League championships with the Seattle Sounders in 1995 and 1996 and the Continental Indoor Soccer Leagueâ€™s Seattle SeaDogs in 1997.