EAST BREMERTON — One of Kitsap’s own is getting ready to join a University of Washington men’s soccer team that has quickly risen to national prominence in the last eight years.
Gabriel Threadgold, a speedy midfielder who has spent the last five years in the Seattle Sounders FC Academy program, heads off to Seattle in a couple of weeks to continue the effort of transforming the Huskies into a powerhouse.
It has been a long, long road for Threadgold — literally. Like every other Sounders player, he has had to make the trip to Starfire Sports in Tukwila on a constant basis. That’s two hours round trip in traffic-free conditions around the Puget Sound from his home in Bremerton.
But all that travel time paid off as he gets ready to join a program that has made six NCAA Tournament appearances in the last eight years, including two trips to the Elite Eight. UW was ranked 27th in the NCAA men’s RPI rankings last year, second only to Stanford among Pac-12 teams.
“Obviously, I’m super excited because there are a lot of pros that come out of that environment and that program,” Threadgold said. “So I’m really excited to get going with the boys and make something happen there.”
Watching warmups, Threadgold isn’t a player that immediately stands out — that is, until he gets the ball at his feet. It’s his wizardry and creativity with the ball, and his outstanding speed that helps him get behind defenses, that helped him catch the eye of coaches at a Sounders tryout five years ago.
Those same qualities have been refined as he has moved up the ranks. This past year, he suited up for the Sounders U-19 team as well as the Tacoma Defiance, which is the primary reserve team for the MLS club. Top Drawer Soccer has rated him three out of five stars.
Threadgold didn’t get to make the same impact on high school soccer. As a rule, Sounders Academy players can’t suit up for their high school teams. While he would have loved to play for Central Kitsap, he enjoyed the higher level of training and competition he received with the Sounders.
“It would have been a lot of fun to play with my friends in high school,” Threadgold said.
Threadgold hasn’t taken much time off this summer, eager to stay in shape for the beginning of practice at UW. After the Sounders finished up in late June, he then suited up for a couple of matches for the Oly-Pen Force to stay in shape.
Preseason training begins Aug. 13 and the team has two friendlies before facing University of Denver on Aug. 30 in a non-league match. The schedule features trips to Michigan and Michigan State along with the usual slate of Pac-12 foes.
It’s a tough transition to Division I soccer, but it will certainly made easier by the fact that Threadgold will get to see a lot of familiar faces once he turns up in Montlake.
“They’re big on recruiting local boys,” Threadgold said, “so I’m definitely playing with a lot of teammates, both from the past and teammates I have right now, so it’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s a good environment.”
— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @MKrulishKDN.