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Tacoma Defiance sign Academy product Eric Kinzner

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The teenaged centerback will bolster the Defiance backline.

Quinn Width / Sounders FC Digital

Tacoma Defiance announced that 17-year-old Academy product Eric Kinzner had signed a USL contract ahead of the team’s game against Sacramento Republic FC on Monday. Kinzner, a Tacoma native, had previously made a verbal commitment to play collegiate soccer for the University of Portland.

Kinzner, standing 6-foot-1 and weighing in at 185 pounds, already has the size to hold his own against USL forwards. The skillful centerback is a highly-rated prospect who continues the recent trend of players progressing through each step in the Seattle Sounders development system, having begun with participation in the Sounders Discovery Program. Kinzner was an integral part of the Sounders Academy U-17 team that made history in 2019 as they won the Generation Adidas Cup Champions Division, becoming the first MLS academy side to do so. Before that, as a U-15, he played up with the U-17s when they won the Premier Division of the same tournament in 2018. His performance in 2019 earned him a place on the 2019 United Soccer Coaches All-American Team, along with four of his fellow Academy teammates.

Beyond his experience with the Sounders Academy, Kinzner also has received his share of opportunities to represent the United States, including an impressive run with the USYNT U-16s as they won the Nike Friendlies tournament in 2019. Kinzner pitched in with a pair of secondary assists as the U.S. topped the Netherlands in the final of that competition. If Academy and international performances aren’t enough, Kinzner was also brought in for the First Team’s preseason trip to Mexico as they prepared for Concacaf Champions League in early 2020. He made substitute appearances in the preseason games against Zapatepec and Pumas U-20s.

Kinzner is a well-rounded defender. A sturdy defensive presence, equally capable of winning challenges on the ground and in the air, his positioning and ability to read the game allow him to use his physicality but not necessarily depend on it. The transition to the professional level will certainly be a challenge, but he has the tools to make it. Beyond his defensive ability, Kinzner is also a smooth player in possession and attack. He can unsettle an opposing defense with a dribble or a line-breaking pass.

In addition to signing Kinzner, the Defiance also announced that they had added goalkeeper Christian Herrera on loan from NISA club Oakland Roots SC through August 12. Herrera, 23 and 6-foot-6, has some experience at the USL Championship and USL 1 levels. The team also signed Academy Agreements with five players for the remainder of the 2020 season: Juan Alvarez, Marco Astorga, Reed Baker-Whiting, Josh Hardin and Cole Kulhanek.

Tune in to watch Tacoma Defiance and the new signings as they take on Sacramento Republic FC Monday, July 13 at 7 PM on ESPN Deportes and ESPN+.