The Rise of Seattle U Men’s Soccer

The Seattle University Men’s Soccer team, led by head coach Pete Fewing, has become a full-fledged collegiate soccer powerhouse. The Redhawks have accomplished six consecutive winning seasons while experiencing unprecedented success exemplified by having players drafted to professional teams.

Recently, two of the top players of the reigning Western Athletic Conference (WAC) champions Seattle U Men’s Soccer squad were chosen in the annual MLS draft.

Graduate student Nkosi Burgess became the highest draft pick in Seattle U Men’s Soccer program history when he was taken at 14th overall pick by FC Dallas. A few rounds later, Senior Midfielder Julian Avila-Good was drafted by the 2019 MLS champion Seattle Sounders.

Burgess anchored the Redhawks’ defense from his central back position during his final year of collegiate eligibility. He came to the Redhawks after transferring from the University of Connecticut, where he played for the past three years and earned his undergraduate degree. His impact on the team and incredible play all season was recognized as he took home the 2019 WAC defensive player of the year.

Fewing gave glowing remarks about the player and person that Burgess is.

“Nkosi came to us for one year as he needed a change to showcase his ability. I have to give credit to our associate head coach Nate Daligcon who recruited him to come play here,” Fewing said. “Nkosi was a big reason why we were able to make the second round of the NCAA tournament this year. He is a very bright, competitive, and athletic young man and I really enjoyed watching him play.”

Avila-Good has been a three-year starter for the Redhawks, serving as team captain this year. He is the classic old-school, hard-working leader in the midfield who has been a large part of the many accomplishments the team has achieved over these past few years.

Fewing wishes that he could have both players back for another year.

“Every team needs a player like Julian,” Fewing said.

Avila-Good and Burgess mark six Redhawks drafted in the past four years. They join past Redhawks Sergio Rivas and Nathan Aune, Alex Roldon and Kyle Bjornethun as recent Seattle U players who have emerged from the program with MLS-caliber talent.

Rivas and Aune were both drafted by the San Jose Earthquakes in 2019. Rivas currently plays for Reno 1868 FC, which is the Earthquakes’ youth affiliate in the United Soccer League (USL). Aune recently got signed by the Union Omaha, a professional soccer team in Nebraska that will play in the

USL league—two levels below MLS. Roldon was drafted by the Sounders in 2018 and has gotten some playing time, alongside his older brother Christian Roldon, the past two years.

This recent run of extraordinary successes, both on the field and in terms of developing players for professional soccer, is remarkable and speaks to the quality of the Seattle U coaching staff, as well as the talent of the players.

Fewing reflected on the team’s recent success, both short and long term.

“Over the past eight years, our team has just gotten better and better to the point that I believe we are now a top 20 Divison I program,” Fewing said. “Because we have gone to the NCAA tournament four out of the last seven years, people are taking notice, and we are able to recruit more talented players as well as play tougher schedules.”

MLS teams like the Seattle Sounders, San Jose Earthquakes and Portland Timbers are becoming increasingly drawn to the Seattle U program due to the caliber of players. As Fewing noted, soccer is a team sport and every member deserves credit for setting the winning standard that allows players to shine and draw attention from professional teams.

According to Fewing, FC Dallas drafted Burgess to compete for a spot on the first team, while the Sounders drafted Avila-Good to be a strong leader on the second team while helping the younger players and continuing to develop his game.

Based on how elite the Seattle U Men’s Soccer program has become over the past few years and the fact that the team has many returners, the Redhawks look to have a bright year— and decade—ahead.

The editor may be reached at [email protected]