Sounders: Stuart Hawkins represents latest emerging academy success story
By Paul Taylor
Stuart Hawkins' call-up to the United States U-17 squad is just the latest example of the Seattle Sounders' commitment to finding and developing the best possible young talent through their academy.
As per a report from soundersfc.com last Friday, Stuart Hawkins has been called up to the US U-17 squad. The team is in the Czech Republic between Sept. 16-26, to prepare for the 2023 Concacaf Championships.
This call-up represents the latest step in Hawkins' development as a defender. It seems like he can do no wrong at the moment. The Fox Island, Washington native first joined the Sounders organization in 2018, at the age of 12. He became a member of their Discovery Program and progressed through the academy.
Seattle Sounders: Tournament MVP
People really began to take note, after Hawkins was named MVP of the 2022 U-17 Generation Adidas Cup tournament. The Sounders beat Tigres UANL 2-0 in the final. (This represented the second straight title for Seattle. They are now just one behind D.C. United and Argentina's River Plate, who have both won the competition three times.)
Following his success in such a high-profile youth competition, Hawkins signed an MLS NEXT Pro contract with Tacoma Defiance in June. As per soundersfc.com, at the time Tacoma head coach Wade Webber said:
"While still very young, especially for a central defender, he has demonstrated a varied skill set and eagerness to learn that indicates he can face whatever challenges lie ahead."- Wade Webber
The next stage of Hawkins' success saw him named to the inaugural MLS NEXT All-Star Game last month. For some context, he was one of 44 academy players selected for the game.
In a further indication of how much is thought of the 15-year-old, he started for the West and played the entire first 45 minutes. He helped the West take a 1-0 lead into the half before being substituted. (The East came back in the second half to win 2-1.)
Seattle Sounders: Making an impression in Tacoma
Hawkins has played four times so far this season for the Defiance, starting on each occasion. He has impressed with 16 clearances and three interceptions, while completing 91 percent of his passes.
Officially listed at 6 foot 1 and 158 pounds, Hawkins has a lot of growth to come yet. He will particularly need to add weight and strength, to endure the physical demands of professional football in defense.
One of the recurring things you hear about Hawkins, is that he has a high footballing IQ. Combined with his ability and comfort on the ball, he seems to have all the necessary attributes to succeed at the MLS level. If so, Hawkins will be the latest in a rich history of youngsters coming through the academy and succeeding. Current Sounders players include Jordan Morris, Danny Leyva and Obed Vargas, while Aaron Kovar (LAFC) and DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Milan) are also worthy of note.
Have you had the opportunity to watch Hawkins in action? If so, how confident are you that he will eventually be a success in the Sounders lineup? Let us know in the comments section below.