Thursday, August 22, 2019
A trio of Spokane Sounders players will soon embark on a first for the club as Erik Collins (2006 ECNL), Lincoln Crockett (2007 ECNL) and Eli Ledgerwood (2007 ECNL) have been invited by the Sounders FC Academy to attend the Gyeongju International Youth Tournament in South Korea August 23-28.
The invitation marks the first time that any of Spokane Sounders players have been selected for an international trip with the Seattle Sounders Youth Academy teams. The Sounders Academy is taking 14 players to South Korea largely on scouting observations by Sounders FC Academy Head of Recruitment Giuseppe DePale, who has made several trips to Spokane over the past year as part of the partnership between the club and Sounders FC. Collins, specifically, has been observed for over a year by Sounders scouts and has been training with the academy regularly for the past six months.
"It is a wonderful compliment to the hard work of Erik, Lincoln, and Eli - hard work being specifically identified as a trait that the Sounders Academy coaches appreciated greatly from these players - that they were selected for the Gyeongju International Youth Tournament in South Korea," said Spokane Sounders Boys Director Mike Pellicio.
The Sounders Academy side will play in a group with teams from China, Japan, Taiwan and host Korea. Recognizable club names in the event from outside Asia include Corinthians (Brazil), Celta Vigo (Spain) and Sydney FC (Australia).
“All three players are immensely talented,” said coach Jesse Retan. "This is combined with an incredible work ethic and a competitive spirit that makes them brilliant players. They are also great kids and a joy to coach. I cannot wait to see what they can achieve as players and as people.“
For players on the boys side, the highest compliment is to receive an invitation to train with the Seattle Sounders Youth Academy teams, and the highest compliment for those few players is to then be selected for an international trip like these boys have. The partnership with the Seattle Sounders gives the club tremendous opportunity to challenge the players in the club, while the continued coaching education efforts and access provided by the Seattle Sounders has allowed for a more structured and coherent interpretation of the most current methodology in the world’s most beautiful game.
"It’s clear to anyone that the Sounders are producing exceptionally talented youth players as witnessed by an amazing tally of 46 players from their Youth Academy and Sounders Discovery Program receiving youth national team call-ups in the last four years, including our own Ray Serrano," said Pellicio. "The fact that our young players from Spokane are forcing their way into these environments says a lot about them as individuals and the potential for players in Spokane; for players who are willing to put in the work and to leave their comfort zone.”
The experience will undoubtedly be a wonderful experience the three will enjoy, remember and benefit from.
"I'm really thankful to my coaches for telling me to experiment and try new things, even when it doesn't always work the first time,” said Eli Ledgerwood. " Now, I get a great opportunity to play against other kids from around the world to see how I compare. Very excited!”
"I have had a blast so far. I never dreamed I would get to have this amazing opportunity,” said Lincoln Crockett. "It has gone by fast, but I will take in as much as I can.”
“I’m really excited to go to South Korea and play teams from other countries. It will be a great experience,” said Erik Collins. I have learned a lot of new drills with a lot of intensity. I like it when everyone plays with a lot of intensity like they do at the SDP.”