Sounders FC today announced that it has signed midfielder Danny Leyva. Leyva signed with Tacoma Defiance this offseason following a standout campaign with Sounders FC’s Academy, where he was part of the U-17 squad that captured the 2017-2018 USSDA National Championship. In addition to being Seattle’s 12th Homegrown Player, the 15-year-old also becomes the youngest First Team signing in club history.
“We are pleased to announce the signing of Danny Leyva, not only in the sense of adding a quality player to our roster, but as a marker of our commitment to youth development overall,” said Sounders FC General Manager & President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey. “Danny has impressed us since entering our Academy a couple years ago and has only further proved himself over the past few months while playing with Tacoma Defiance and throughout Sounders FC’s preseason. We are excited to continue his progress and see what he can bring as a member of our First Team.”
Leyva has started four of five appearances in 2019 for Tacoma Defiance, Sounders FC’s USL side, logging 354 minutes. He has an 83.5-percent passing accuracy on a team-high 254 total passes, while also ranking among the team leaders with four tackles won and 19 duels won. On September 29 of last season, Leyva became the youngest player in club history to start a USL match, and the second-youngest in league history to earn a start, completing 35 of 44 passes with two interceptions in 90 minutes at San Antonio FC.
“At this club we try to reward players that earn a roster spot within the group, and Danny Leyva is no exception. If a player is good enough, regardless of age, we will give him a look,” said Sounders FC Head Coach Brian Schmetzer. “The coaching staff feels he is ready to participate in all First Team training, and if he continues to work and progress we will include him in games. I am very pleased with his overall commitment to the club, his training habits, and his ability to understand the concepts we are trying to implement this year. He has a wonderful opportunity to work with Gonzalo Pineda, who mentored Cristian Roldan as a player, and play with the many talented players we currently have on the roster. Danny seems eager to learn and is a very coachable kid.”
Leyva joined the Sounders FC Academy from his local select club, Barcelona Las Vegas, in 2017, playing with the club’s U-15 and U-17 teams last season (2017-2018) and compiling 11 goals and 13 assists across all competitions. He began playing two years up with the U-17s during the first round of 2018 Generation Adidas Cup, which Sounders FC won. He went on to feature in every postseason match as the U-17s collected the club’s first-ever U.S. Soccer Development Academy national championship.
“We are very happy that Danny made the choice to play for Seattle Sounders FC Academy and we are very proud to announce him as our youngest signing in club history,” said Sounders FC Sporting Director & VP of Soccer Chris Henderson. “Danny exemplifies the character our club looks for in a player, as evidenced by his willingness to do whatever is needed and by his pure passion for the game. He has a very good soccer brain, well beyond his years.”
Leyva has represented the United States at the U-15 and U-16 levels. On several occasions, the midfielder captained the U-16s for a series of friendlies. The Las Vegas native scored a goal from a corner kick in a 1-0 win over Italy in the 2018 Torneo Delle Nazioni, where he played in matches against Italy, Croatia, Slovenia and Japan as the U.S. finished in third place. Leyva was recently named to the final U.S. U-17 roster ahead of the 2019 CONCACAF Championship, which serves as the qualifying event for the 2019 FIFA U-17 World Cup. The midfielder was one of two players born in 2003 to be included at the camp.
At 15 years and 339 days old, Leyva is the youngest signing in Sounders FC club history. The previous mark for youngest Sounders FC First Team signing was Victor Mansaray, who was 17 years, and 256 days old when he signed as a Homegrown Player on November 5, 2014. Leyva is also tied for the 15th youngest signing in league history, and becomes the 19th player to sign an MLS contract prior to their 16th birthday.
The signing of Leyva marks the 12th Sounders FC Homegrown Player signing in club history. U.S. National Team defender DeAndre Yedlin was the club’s first Homegrown Player in 2012, making two MLS All-Star appearances before being sold to Tottenham Hotspur in England’s Premier League. The club then signed midfielder Aaron Kovar and forward Sean Okoli in 2013, before adding forwards Mansaray and Darwin Jones in 2014. In 2016, the Rave Green signed University of Denver midfielder Jordan Schweitzer and 2016 MLS Rookie of the Year Jordan Morris to Homegrown deals, then added forward Seyi Adekoya from UCLA and Henry Wingo from Washington to the roster in 2017. Midfielder Handwalla Bwana became the 10th Academy product to sign with the First Team prior the 2018 season, while goalkeeper Trey Muse was signed to the club in January.