The Seattle Sounders Academy made history on Thursday. The Sounders became the first MLS Academy to advance to the championship game of the Generation adidas Cup Champions Division, which was rebranded in 2015 as an event for MLS academy players to get more international experience.
Sounders defeated West Ham 4-0 in the first semifinal from Toyota Stadium. Sounders will meet the winner of the other semifinal, Dinamo Zagreb - Valencia, in the final on Saturday, April 20 at 7:00 p.m. (ET). The game can be viewed on the MLS twitch channel.
Sounders forward Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez was the star of the day. Ocampo-Chavez scored three goals in an 18-minute period during the first half to lead Sounders to the big lead at the break. Ocampo-Chavez scored six of the Sounders’ seven goals so far during the competition. He is the Golden Boot leader in the competition.
Sounders center back Elias Katsaros also had a terrific game. Katsaros scored a goal, blocked a goal with a goal-line save, and contributed an assist. He was a key piece in the defense shutting down the West Ham attack. Goalkeeper Conrad Lee recorded the shutout and made a couple of good saves.
Seattle also benefitted from the return of Daniel Robles to the line-up. The attacking midfielder was suspended for the Quarterfinal win over River Plate due to yellow card accumulation. With Robles back in the starting line-up, Seattle’s free-flowing attack really sprang to life. Robles was a key part of the second goal as his run to the near post on Ray Serrano’s cross opened up the chance for Ocampo-Chavez.
West Ham definitely suffered from the absence of U.S. Youth National Team midfielder Peter Stroud on Thursday. Stroud picked up his second yellow card of the competition in the 2-1 win over LA Galaxy in the quarterfinal so he was forced to miss the game on Thursday against the Sounders. Without Stroud, West Ham struggled to gain control of the game from the center of the pitch.
The Sounders will be attempting to one-up their own accomplishment from last season when the Seattle side won the Premier Division (the second bracket) at the 2018 Generation adidas Cup with a young side. The experience paid off on Thursday as Sounders were clinical in the final third early in the contest to put West Ham away.
Sounders also paved the way for a future return trip to this stage as they gave some minutes on Thursday to some of the youngest players in the competition with Reed Baker-Whiting (born in 2005) and Oscar Rincon-Rodriguez (born in 2004) both appearing in the second half.
Sounders XI vs West Ham: Conrad Lee; Sota Kitahara, Joshua Atencio, Elias Katsaros (Eric Kinzner 53’), Alex Villanueva (Sintayehu Clements 59’); Daniel Leyva (Reed Baker-Whiting 72’) , Chris Hegardt (Thai Wichienwidhtaya 59’), Daniel Robles; Ray Serrano, Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez (Oscar Rincon-Rodriguez 53’); Ethan Dobbelaere