LATDP Elite U14 Sutton Williams signs with SKC
On Thursday, April 27, a fourteen-year-old soccer player out of Zachary, Louisiana signed his letter of commitment to play for the Sporting Kansas City Academy of Major League Soccer (MLS).
Sutton Williams, a former Baton Rouge Soccer Club (BRSC) player and current striker for Louisiana Total Development Program Elite (LATDP Elite), was surrounded by his teammates, coaches, friends, and family as he signed his letter of commitment at Dutchtown High School following his team’s Thursday night training session.
“It’s pretty special to see the hard work of the coaches and the directors of the clubs in Louisiana come together to establish LA TDP Elite. It requires a great deal of sacrifice to develop and compete at this level of play. Sutton, his teammates, and coaches have proven that they are committed to putting in the work to reach their goals.John Williams on the the LATDP Elite Program
Williams began playing recreational soccer at the age of six in Zachary with BRSC before transitioning into BRSC’s competitive program at nine. In his first season of competitive soccer, Williams flashed his goal-scoring ability on BRSC 2009 Boys Black. Stanley Johnson, Williams’ first competitive coach, knew great things were in store for Williams as long as he continue to work on his game. “Early during Sutton’s development he revealed himself as an elite competitor with a work ethic second to none,” said Johnson. “ His training habits were phenomenal and his achievements are undoubtedly a product of the same hard work that elevated players and the environment around him.”
Following the success of the 2021 season, players like Williams were afforded the opportunity to compete in the nation’s highest youth soccer program for boys, MLS NEXT. BRSC, Louisiana Fire Soccer Club, and Louisiana Krewe Rush (formerly Lafayette Dynamo) created LATDP Elite to formerly pitch an unprecedented collaboration that would see all three clubs pooling players and resources to compete with the nation’s best. Thanks to their successful bid,
the top soccer players in the state now had the chance to showcase their abilities to MLS Academies and receive better exposure to college scouts.
LATDP Elite MLS NEXT Director Joan Oliva strongly believes in the program that he oversees, but strongly believes that the ability to advance to the next level depends on the player. “ We are so happy for Sutton. He is a very talented player, but he also put a lot of work into his talent and counts on great support from his family in following his dream. All of that is crucial to succeed: Talent, work, and support. He represents the player that we want to have. He came all the way, starting at the grassroots, to play competitively at BRSC and then compete at the highest possible level with LATDP in MLS Next. Now he is ready to keep learning and to keep growing, as a player and as a person, in one of the top environments in the youth US Soccer, at Sporting Kansas City.”
Sutton joins former LATDP Elite 2007 Boys Goalkeeper Christian DeLapp as the second player to officially sign to play for an MLS Academy. Three additional LATDP Elite players also made the jump to the MLS NEXT Academy system following tryouts. Additional players are expected to sign or make MLS Academy rosters during the off-season.
Now, our states best have the platform and ability to chase their dreams. That’s all we need.Sutton Williams on LATDP Elite
“It is huge for us because our goal here is to develop young men who fit in with us and are motivated by the environment here to become great players,” said Oliva. “It’s our wish for our players to have opportunities like Sutton, that within 2 years in the program already signed for other Pro MLS Academies. I also want to thank his teammates and all coaches he has, this would be impossible without them.”
Following a successful showing in the fall of 2022, Williams was selected to participate in the MLS NEXT Fest Best of Match in Palm Springs California. The match featured the top players from MLS NEXT clubs not currently playing with an MLS Academy. Williams showcased his knack for finding the back of the net scoring the only goal in the first half of play.
Overall, Williams was recruited by four different MLS Academies including Houston Dynamo, Austin FC, Columbus Crew, and Sporting Kansas City.
“It has been my goal to someday play at the professional level,” said Williams. “With the initial development by my home club and the right training environment and game atmosphere from LATDP Elite, I’ve had the opportunity to grow as a person and player in a way that was recognized by the Academy scouts. Without them, I would have never had this opportunity at fourteen.”
LATDP Elite is wrapping up its second season of MLS NEXT League Play and is steadily improving its standing in the ever-tough Frontier Conference. Rosters feature standout players from Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lafayette, Shreveport, and beyond. The league allows the region’s top players to play and train at the highest level with the hope of advancing to the MLS Academy system and the collegiate level.
For BRSC Executive Director and LATDP Elite Advisory Board Louie Smothermon, this signing is why the founding members all came together in the best interest of the players. “Each of the founding clubs (BRSC, Louisiana Fire, and LA Krewe Rush) have common goals to provide cutting-edge training, competition, and opportunities for male (MLS NEXT) and female (Girls Academy) players in and around Louisiana,” said Smothermon. “Participation and success in the MLS NEXT have significantly helped Sutton and several other players with opportunities to join fully funded MLS Academies. We are extremely proud of Sutton and his achievement of signing with Sporting KC’s Academy Program.”
Williams will officially report to Kansas City in August where he will enroll in school as a freshman in high school and begin the next step in his aspirations to play at the professional level.
“This has been an amazing journey for Sutton and the family,” said Williams’ father, John Williams. “It’s pretty special to see the hard work of the coaches and the directors of the clubs in Louisiana come together to establish LA TDP Elite. It requires a great deal of sacrifice to develop and compete at this level of play. Sutton, his teammates, and coaches have proven that they are committed to putting in the work to reach their goals. We are very excited about this opportunity and we will always be thankful for the support from the coaches, players, and families. ”
“It’s hard to believe that this is happening. I’m surrounded by friends and former rivals taking this next step,” said Williams after reflecting on this accomplishment. “If it wasn’t for BRSC, LA Fire, and Lafayette working together for players like me and my teammates I would have had to leave the state to get this opportunity. Now, our states best have the platform and ability to chase their dreams. That’s all we need.”
About LATDP Elite
LATDP Elite is an affiliate program of the Houston Dynamo Academy that provides high-level players (U13 – U19) in Louisiana with the chance to train with and play against the best players and teams in the country under the direction of highly qualified coaches. Elite players from hub locations in Baton Rouge, Lafayette, New Orleans, and surrounding areas will come together to form teams to provide players with a greater prospect of identification at all levels of play.
About Baton Rouge Soccer Club
Baton Rouge Soccer Club (BRSC) is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide quality soccer opportunities to the greater Baton Rouge area. As the largest non-profit soccer club in Louisiana and one of the largest in the southeastern region, we strive to set the standard of soccer programming and customer service for our members. With more than 7,000 members, we are a full-service club with soccer programming which provides excellent learning and character-building experiences for youth and has a broad impact on the area’s economy.