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SOCCER: Four area grads set to play for Sounders FC U-23 soccer club
The newly-developed Sounders FC U-23 soccer club will have a big-time Federal Way feel during their inaugural season, which kicks off next month.
So far, four Federal Way school district graduates will suit up for the under-23 squad, including Beamer's Sean Ugo Okoli, Brandon Brockway and Troy Peterson, along with Jefferson's Chase Hanson.
The foursome will be coached by TJ graduate and former Raider head coach Darren Sawatzky, who is also the director of youth development for the Major League Soccer (MLS) Sounders.
“Coaching the Sounders FC U-23s is an exciting opportunity for me,” said Sawatzky. “It will be great to watch these players grow and compete at this level and chase the dream of playing at the top level. I look forward to getting started.”
"Darren grew up in Federal Way and he has strong ties to the local soccer community,” said the team's co-owner Lane Smith.
Sounders FC U-23, which was formerly the Tacoma Tide, have partnered with the Sounders to serve as a development platform for the professional first team. The Sounders U-23 will compete in United Soccer Leagues’ Premier Development League (PDL), the top U-23 men’s league in North America and features 64 teams across the United States and Canada.
The team will play against other PDL franchises from Vancouver, Victoria Fraser Valley, Portland and Washington Crossfire, among others. The Sounders U-23 home field will be at Franklin Pierce High School. The team will also take on Bremerton's Kitsap Pumas on June 15 at Cheney Stadium.
Okoli, Brockway, Peterson and Hanson all were highly-recruited players out of high school in 2011 and all played for the Sounders FC Academy program as preps.
“We expect these players to build on the successful college seasons they had this year and we look forward to getting them back in Sounders rave green for the summer,” said Sawatzky.
Okoli played in every match as a freshman for the Wake Forrest Deamon Deacons in the fall. The forward also has extensive experience with the U-18 United States National Team.
Brockway, a defender, redshirted this past season at Oregon State before transferring to the University of California Santa Barbara during the offseason.
"We are excited to have Brandon's size, athleticism and passing ability to compliment our back line," Santa Barbara head coach Tim Vom Steeg said.
Pederson, a central midfielder, played this fall at The College of Charleston where he was named to the All-Freshman Team in the Southern Conference.
Hanson joins the Sounders U-23 after his freshman season with NCAA Division II powerhouse, Barry University. Hanson played in 19 matches and helped Barry reach the third round of the NCAA Division II Tournament. The Miami-based university finished 2011 with a 12-3-6 record.
"I remember Chase when he was a 10-year-old spark plug,” Sawatzky said. “It is great to see him grow into a quality college player and we look forward to him contributing to the group this summer."
Season and single match tickets are on sale at SoundersU23.com. Their first home match in the PDL is May 25 against the Victoria Highlanders. The kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. at Franklin Pierce.