SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC U-16/17 CAPTURE FIRST ACADEMY TITLE WITH 5-1 WIN OVER ATLANTA UNITED FC

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (July 10, 2018) - A 10v10 chess match for more than half the game, Seattle Sounders FC U-16/17 continued its offensive prowess in come-from-behind fashion, defeating 2016-17 Academy Champions Atlanta United FC, 5-1.

Despite going down 1-0 in the eighth minute, Seattle once again discovered a way to ignite emerald green fireworks, netting goals from Alec Diaz, Azriel Gonzalez, Alfonso Ocampo Chavez and a brace from Ray Serrano Lopez to bring the first U.S. Soccer Development Academy title to the state of Washington.

"I'm delighted for our community and for our club," West Conference Coach of the Year Chris Little said. "There are so many people that work tirelessly for the players and the Academy program, from our education department, welfare, administrators, technical staff, trainers. They invest so much time and support into the players. There are so many people that have played a big part in this success and we're delighted or them. For our club, the investment they've made, it feels great… We're very fortunate to win the first one and hopefully it will be the first of many for Seattle."

The Sounders started the game down early to Atlanta, when Daniel Mangarov netted his sixth goal of the season in the eighth minute. Seattle goalkeeper Robert Harraka initially made a tough save after Atlanta's Natnael McDonald sent a rocket on frame, but his deflection kept the ball nearby as multiple players swarmed in, including Mangarov, who was first to poke in the go-ahead goal.

Back and forth for the ensuing 32 minutes, including a massive sliding shot-block from Atlanta's George Campbell in the 28', Seattle found its equalizer in the 40th minute. Working the ball through their half of the field, Atlanta sent a pass back to Matthew Rios. Looking to go back to his goalkeeper, Rios mishit a pass back to his goalkeeper. Unfortunately for the 5 Stripes defender, lurking in the deep end was a white jersey in U-17 Men's National Team attacking midfielder Serrano Lopez. Immediately taking control, Serrano Lopez pushed straight up the gut of Atlanta territory, quickly faked a strike, touched to his right around the outstretched Vincent Florio and fired the ball home.

Three minutes later, tensions got hot.

If the conditions weren't warm enough from the Kansas City heat, tempers quickly flared on the field after an ill-timed challenge from Atlanta's Victor Delgado. Following that challenge, a brief skirmish broke and Seattle's Marlon Vargas was caught delivering a shove to Delgado. Both players were sent off, leaving 20 players on the field to decide the championship.

On the proceeding free kick, Seattle shifted the game's momentum.

Sent into the box by Connor Drought, a clearing header bounced the ball out to Daniel Robles, who quickly flipped the ball back into the box at the feet of Diaz. The forward did the rest, switching from his left side to right and unleashing a curler over the head of Florio to give the Sounders a 2-1 lead.

Then came the second half fireworks.

Seven minutes after subbing in, Ocampo Chavez crafted his first of two assists on the night in the 64th minute. Tracking down a pass to the corner flag, Ocampo Chavez took on, and weaved through, two Atlanta defenders before ripping a shot to the near post. While the shot ricocheted off the post, it landed perfectly towards the back post where Serrano waited, taping the ball into the open net.

In the 76th minute, Atlanta landed on its final opportunity to get themselves back into the game when Remi Smith was taken down in the box to draw a penalty. Deciding to step up to the spot was Natnael McDonald who took his chance right. Unfortunately for McDonald, so did Harraka.

With the flood gates officially opened, Seattle continued to create opportunities to close the door on Atlanta.

Sixteen minutes after the saved penalty and the second minute of stoppage time, the Sounders captured their fourth goal of the night. Taking advantage of another mis-hit ball from the Atlanta backline, the ball found its way back to the dangerous Ocampo Chavez who worked his way into the left side of the box. Instead of lifting a shot on goal, Ocampo Chavez laid one off for fellow striker Gonzalez, who nestled in the pass.

As the game's final whistle drew near, Ocampo Chavez finally netted a goal of his own into the seventh minute of stoppage time, putting the cherry on top of an incredible performance. With Atlanta caught deep in Seattle territory, the Sounders used a quick counter and beautifully strung through-ball from Blake Malone to leave Ocampo Chavez one-on-one with Florio. The lethal striker did the rest, easily slotting the ball left of the last man.

After the game, Ocampo Chavez and Serrano described what it means to bring the cup back to Seattle and the chemistry that developed throughout the season to make their attack so deadly.

"After the Winter Showcase in Florida, we started building more chemistry and finishing games with higher scores," Ocampo Chavez said. "I'm really proud of this team."

"To bring the first Development Academy National Championship to Washington feels great," Serrano said. "We've worked really hard from the beginning of the season to the end and I feel like we deserve this because we worked really hard and it paid off."