Stuart Hawkins signs with Tacoma Defiance

Stuart Hawkins is now the latest in a growing line of players moving from the Sounders Academy to the pro ranks with the Tacoma Defiance. Hawkins, the 15-year-old skinny quarterback, has already spent several years in the Seattle Sounders system, having joined the Sounders Discovery Program at age 12.

Hawkins spent time with the Sounders First Team during pre-season this year, making a lasting impression on the staff and veteran players around him. Stefan Fry, in particular, recalled Hawkins’ performance in a scrimmage: “I remember … very soon when we started the Champions League, we played a brawl here – first team against second team – and Stu had to slip over to my side and I was very impressed.”

Shortly thereafter, Hawkins played a key role with the Sounders Under-17 team as they became back-to-back adidas Cup winners of the generation, defeating the Tigres in the final. Hawkins won the Player of the Tournament award, showing how influential he was in the game from his position on the backline.

All of these performances led to time with the US youth national teams, more training with the Sounders First team, and one appearance with Defiance before signing with the MLS Next Pro team. In that debut, a 2-0 win at Colorado Rapids 2, Hawkins put something of a clinic pass as he completed 42 of 43 passes—the only pass he missed from Hawkins was his first pass of the game. This included 16 accurate passes to the opponent’s half and an accurate long ball. To go with that, he also won 1 interference and 2 out of 3 duels.

Hawkins clearly has the tools to be a pro, and now it’s about honing those tools and adapting to a new level. Fortunately, he’s got a new head coach who knows what it takes and is up to the task of developing players.

It’s going to be fast and strong enough as well as technical enough,” Defiance coach Wade Webber said last April, “but a lot of the game is played between the ears.”

This understanding and tactical awareness will come with time and exposure. For Frei, Hawkins seems to have what it takes to get on that mental part.

“I think he’s a very smart player,” said the veteran goalkeeper this week. “I hope he grows a little bit bigger and fills in, because he’s a very physical league, MLS, so he’s going to need to be able to swing with some very strong players. I’m sure that will come, but he’s a very smart player.”

As much as he grows in size, Hawkins still grows a lot. When Hawkins first appeared on the bench with Defiance and had a player profile created on the MLS Next Pro website, he was listed at 6’0″ and 146 pounds, and by the time his signature with the team was announced, he had grown to 6’1″ He added 12 pounds, which is mostly to indicate that at 15 he still has a lot of growth ahead of everything.

Joining Deviance as the 16th player to have signed directly with the team, Hawkins is moving to a central defender group that should provide a good environment for his growth. Eric Kinzner, for example, has taken a very similar path to Defiance, having also joined the Sounders Academy through SDP and played CB as the Sounders U17s won their first Division I GA Cup in 2019, already in the 19th with over 2000 Professional minutes.

Akel Robben and Hal Oderitz are both slightly older – 25 and 22, respectively – but in their first professional seasons. Both spent time playing college football in Seattle, with Robben playing Jimmy Clark at the University of Washington in 2021 and Oderitz playing three seasons with Seattle University under Pete Fewing. Add to that that Wade Webber, a former CB player himself, loves to educate and develop players, and it looks like Hawkins is in good hands.

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