Inevitably, that will mean some promising young talents doing some of their development on other teams and maybe moving before they have a significant on-field impact here.
An early candidate for such a move is Reed Baker-Whiting, who Sounder at Heart has learned is currently training with SC Freiburg. Baker-Whiting has apparently been training with both the first and reserve teams as a right back and Freiburg is potentially interested in bringing him in on a loan with an option to buy. It has been common for MLS teams to retain a significant sell-on clause when they send young players to Europe, something the Sounders did when they sold Henry Wingo to Norway’s Mölde and later collected an additional $200,000 after he moved to Ferencvaros. Notably, Baker-Whiting wouldn’t be able to actually move to Freiburg until he turns 18 in March.
Still just 17 after first signing a first-team deal with the Sounders in 2021, Baker-Whiting is generally considered one of team’s higher-upside prospects. Baker-Whiting has long been linked with European interest and was recently named to the Guardian’s prestigious “next generation” list.
On Tuesday, ESPN said this about his potential to make the USMNT’s 2026 World Cup roster: “Baker-Whiting might be the most likely player to force his way into the US manager’s plans.”
All of this despite putting up relatively pedestrian numbers with both the Sounders and Defiance.
Over parts of two seasons with the Sounders, Baker-Whiting has only made six appearances although he has shown an ability to get into dangerous places as his 1.4 xG illustrates. With the Defiance, he’s played about 2,100 minutes but hasn’t been able to establish himself as an automatic starter and came off the bench during their recent playoff campaign.
The Sounders have almost exclusively used Baker-Whiting as a midfielder, both inside and on the wing. But the United States U-19 team recently tried him as a right back. He looked strong enough there that it apparently got the attention of Freiburg, a team that’s traditionally hovered around mid-table but currently sits second in the Bundesliga. Their reserve team currently plays in the German third-division.