Villanova recruit Sam Rogers is getting valuable preseason experience with the defending MLS Cup champs.
The holding midfielder was one of four players from the Sounders Academy to receive invites to the Sounders preseason training camp when it opened in late January. U18 winger Shandon Hopeau U16 striker Azriel Gonzalez and U16 goalkeeper Sam Fowler were the others.
“I think training with the first team is a good challenge and will push me further to get where I want to go,” Rogers told SoundersFC.com. “I think [training with Homegrown players] makes my goals feel more reachable, just seeing guys that were in my position [in the Academy] a few years ago now playing for the first team makes me feel like I can do it too.”
Rogers has a pair of goals in 15 starts this season for the Sounders U18 team. He plays primarily as a holding midfielder but can also play center back. He’s one of six recruits who have signed a national letter of intent with Villanova this month.
Local standouts Maxwell Zandi and Richie Schlentz, Right to Dream Academy midfielder Theo Quartey, Dallas Texans goalkeeper Carson Williams and Vardar Academy goalkeeper Vince Manzo were also part of another impressive recruiting class for head coach Tom Carlin.
“Sam is going to be fantastic for us,” Carlin said. “He just has a natural ability to influence teammates on the field and has natural leadership abilities.”
Carlin said Rogers will compete for a spot either in central midfield or on the back line, which Philadelphia Union Academy graduate Shane Bradley anchored as a freshman last season.
Rogers made the bench for Seattle’s friendly against Portland in Tucson on February 4 and three days later checked into the Sounders friendly against San Jose in the 60th minute.
“For him to get experience with Seattle, with the first team, is incredible,” Carlin said.