SECOND HALF SURGE LIFTS SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC U-16/17 TO ACADEMY CHAMPIONSHIPS FINAL

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (July 8, 2018) - After an evenly-matched first half, emerald fireworks featured after the break as Seattle Sounders FC U-16/17 rode three second-half goals to a berth in the Academy Championships Final. The Northwest Division champs defeated Barca Academy 4-1 in the day's second U-16/17 semifinal.

After each side scored an early goal to set an even tone for the opening hour, Seattle found a spark in the 59th minute. Defender Blake Malone took to the skies, leaping above a sea of Barca defenders to nod in the eventual game-winner.

"I'm just glad our team went out and got the job done," Malone said. "We all worked really hard and we came to life in that second half and I'm just glad we came together as a team and got it done."

The third and fourth goals firmly shut the door on Barca. Marlon Vargas and Alfonso Ocampo Chavez netted in the 76th and 87th minutes, respectively.

While the Sounders dominated the second half, the first period struck a different tune. The opening goal came in the 10th minute when Seattle made an early statement. On a counterattack that penetrated through the spine of the Barca defense, Daniel Robles played a spot-on through-ball to Alec Diaz. The forward continued up the left side, taking two touches before slotting it far post past Barca goalkeeper Luke Pruter.

Less than four minutes later, Barca found an equalizer. After a carving run through the midfield, Cameron Fisher fed Jake LaCava. His determined run up the left side saw him meet the pass near the six-yard-box. LaCava controlled it, and took his chance to the near post, unphased by the lurking Seattle 'keeper. The left-footed strike left no doubt and evened the score at 1-1.

The 1-1 deadlock finally broke on Malone's header in the 59th minute. The goal opened the floodgates for the Sounders. In the 76th, a combination between Azriel Gonzalez and Marlon Vargas catalyzed the first insurance goal. Pressing Barca in its own territory, Seattle jumped on a quick turnover. A string of passes made their way to Gonzalez and the midfielder curled a pass near the top left of the box, teeing-up Vargas in perfect scoring position. The midfielder smashed the ball past Pruter to give the Sounders a 3-1 lead.

U.S. Under-17 National Team forward Ocampo Chavez provided the exclamation point as the final whistle neared. After entering the game as a substitute in the 58th, Ocampo Chavez cut from right to left along the top of the Barca box late in the 87th. He finished with a left-footed dart, just out of reach for the outstretched Barca 'keeper.

Seattle will now take on Atlanta United FC on Tuesday, July 10 for the U-16/17 Academy Championship. Fans can tune into the final on ussoccerda.com, the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Facebook page, the U.S. Soccer YouTube Channel as well as follow along on the Development Academy Twitter and Instagram accounts (@ussoccer_acad).