Stuart Hawkins is now the latest in an ever-growing line of players to make the step from Sounders Academy to pro ranks with Tacoma Defiance. Hawkins, a lanky 15-year-old center-back, has already spent several years in the Seattle Sounders system, having joined the Sounders Discovery program at the age of 12.
Hawkins spent time with Sounders First Team during this year’s preseason, where he left a lasting impression on the staff and veteran players around him. Stefan Frei, in particular, recalled Hawkins’ performance in a scrimmage: “I remember … right around the time we started the Champions League, we played a scrimmage here – first team against second team – and Stu really had to slip. on my side and I was quite impressed. ”
Not long after, Hawkins continued to play a key role with the U17 Sounders when they became consecutive winners of the Generation Adidas Cup, defeating the Tigres in the final. Hawkins won the MVP of the tournament, illustrating how influential he was on the game from his place on the back line.
These performances all brought time with the US national youth teams, multiple training sessions with the Sounders First Team, and an appearance with Defiance before signing with the MLS Next Pro team. In that one appearance, a road win for 2-0 v Colorado Rapids 2, Hawkins set up a sort of passing clinic by completing 42 of 43 passes – the only pass that missed Hawkins’ mark was his first pass of the game. This included 16 accurate passes into the opponent’s half and an accurate long ball. To go with that, he also won a tackle 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 has a new manager who is aware of what he needs and is up to the task of developing the players.
“He will be fast enough and strong enough as well as being technical enough,” Defiance head coach Wade Webber said in April. “But a lot of the game is played between the ears.”
That tactical understanding and awareness will come with time and exposure. For Frei, Hawkins seems to have what it takes to get that mental part.
“I think he’s a very smart player,” the veteran goalkeeper said this week. “Let’s hope he grows a little more in his size and fills up, because he’s a very physical league, MLS, so he’s going to need to be able to swing with some guys who are pretty strong. I’m sure he will arrive, but a very intelligent player. ”
As for its size, Hawkins is still growing. When Hawkins made his first bench appearance for Defiance and generated a player profile on the MLS Next Pro website, he was listed at 6’0 “and 146lbs, and in the time leading up to the announcement of signing with the team he has grown to 6 ‘1 ”and added 12lbs, which is mainly to emphasize that at 15 he has reasonably still a lot to grow ahead of him in every sense of the word.
Hawkins joins Defiance when the 16th player signed directly with the team and joins a group of center backs that should provide a good environment for his growth. For example, Eric Kinzner has taken a very similar path to Defiance, having also joined the Sounders Academy through the SDP and playing CB when the U17 Sounders won their first top-tier GA Cup championship in 2019, and 19 years old has already accumulated more than 2,000 professional records.
Achille Robin and Hal Uderitz are both a little older – 25 and 22, respectively – but in their first seasons as a pro. They both spent time playing college football in Seattle, with Robin playing for Jamie Clark at the University of Washington in 2021 and Uderitz playing three seasons with Seattle University under Pete Fewing. Add that Wade Webber, himself a former CB, loves teaching and developing players and Hawkins appears to be in good hands.