In a bit of a surprise move, Seattle Sounders FC 2 have signed attacking midfielder/forward Azriel Gonzalez to a professional contract. Not to say that the player doesn’t deserve it, but at just 16 years old he is the youngest player ever signed by the Sounders (all eras), edging out Jeff Stock (NASL) and Victor Mansaray (MLS) who were both 17.
The Las Vegas native is in his fourth season with the Sounders Academy, having joined when he was just 13, and has been one of the their best players. This season with the Academy and S2 he has 17 goals and 8 assists in all competitions. Playing with players older than him will be nothing new for Gonzalez, who has spent much of his time with the Academy playing up a level. The 16-year-old has been excellent for the Academy in international competitions, winning the Golden Boot at both the Cayman Airways Cup and the prestigious Youdan Trophy.
The Academy star has also been a feature on the USYNT for the past two years, receiving call-ups for the Val-De-Marne Tournament, the IMG Cup and the International Dream Cup in Japan just last month, as well as several other training camps. In total, Gonzalez has 10 caps with the USYNT and has scored 4 goals and added 2 assists.
In the official press release, Sounders Director of Player Personnel Kurt Schmid said "Azriel is a very talented young player and we're excited to have him in our organization. Since joining the Academy, Azriel has embodied the type of players we aim to develop in our system. We are very excited in his long-term potential."
Sounders FC 2 head coach Ezra Hendrickson also gushed about his team’s new signing: "We have been very impressed with the way Azriel has taken advantage of every opportunity given to him. He is a gifted and motivated player with great instincts and technical abilities."
Gonzalez made his debut in a professional league earlier this season with S2 and has a total of 113 minutes in 5 appearances with the USL side. It is unlikely that this move catapults him to starter, but Gonzalez has looked comfortable with S2 and will likely continue to get time off the bench.