Written by Erin Dunne, Athletics Media Relations Student Intern  |  Photos Courtesy of the Seattle Sounders

On the field, scoring goals can make or break a game in soccer. When the blue and gold uniforms come off, personal goals can make or break a player’s future. Guillermo Delgado, a junior on the men’s soccer team, is following the path to his goals of playing professional soccer through devoting his summers to the Professional Development League.

While most college students are soaking up sun on the beach or working lax summer jobs, Delgado, a native of Tres Cantos, Spain, was playing grueling games of soccer and spending hours in practice for the Seattle Sounders U23 team. But it was an opportunity he couldn’t turn down.

“Playing in that environment, in which only the best players of each college or each team are selected, it’s more of a professional environment and practices are a little more strict,” commented Delgado. “It improves your quality of play because you are surrounded by better players. It makes you work harder and pushes you to your limits since you are also playing against higher level players.”

The Sounders recruiting coach was initially attracted to Delgado for the potential he saw when he stepped onto the soccer field and his devotion to the game. To be recruited for a U23 team opens doors that will ultimately lead to Delgado’s goals and improve his playing at Delaware.

“Guillermo is a dynamic forward with professional potential,” Sounders Director of Youth Development Darren Sawatsky said. “With the Sounders U23 team, we look for players that can make the jump to the next level and are currently in the top group of college soccer players. Guillermo fits these categories and his passion for the game is something I look for in players.”

This was Delgado’s second summer playing in the PDL as he previously played the summer of 2014 for the Philadelphia Union U23 team. For aspiring soccer players, playing for a league like this is a glimpse of what it means to be playing professional.

“I think the greatest benefit from the Seattle Sounders experience is to witness firsthand the fans, the stadium and how professional they are with organization,” Delaware head coach Ian Hennessy remarked. “I think that’s an opportunity he’s taken with both hands and grown immensely from.

It is an opportunity that will set him apart from his peers when it comes to development and scouting for professional leagues.

"If players aspire to play at the next level, they need the experience of playing and training with players and coaches at that level,” mentioned Sawatsky. “The Sounders U23 is the amateur link to the Sounders FC first team so this gives the players that play here direct access to the MLS team and what it takes to play at that level." 

For Delgado, developing professionally wasn’t the only thing that mattered this summer. As a captain, two time All-American and leading scorer for the Blue Hens, representing Delaware from across the country was a chance to spread to word about his college team.

“For me, it’s great to be able to represent the University of Delaware as this program has been growing from the scratch up just in the last 10 years,” says Delgado. “We’ve been working so hard in trying to show ourselves out there.”

For Delgado, the Sounders experience was a positive one and one step closer to potentially playing for a professional league following his time in a Delaware uniform.

Delgado (below, second row, five players in) and the Blue Hens wrap up regular season home action Wednesday by hosting CAA rival James Madison at 7 p.m.  With two total remaining league games, Delaware, currently tied for fourth in the standings, looks to build upon its recent successes in the CAA.