Tacoma Defiance made their youngest-ever signing on Thursday. Reed Baker-Whiting, 15, made substitute appearances in both of Tacoma’s games since their return to action following COVID-19 caused hiatus. Baker-Whiting’s signing brings the Defiance roster to 16 signed players.
At only 15 years and 3 months, Baker-Whiting already has an impressive amount of experience. Baker-Whiting is a member of the first cohort to play all three years, from U-12 to U-14, in the Sounders Discovery Program — a program intended to provide younger players with high-level training and tournament experience before joining the organization’s youngest full-time age group with the U-15s — and has competed and had success in tournaments like the Youdan Trophy, the Manchester City Cup, and the Generation Adidas Cup. In 2019, at 14, Baker-Whiting played up with the Sounders U-17s as they became the first MLS academy team to with the Champions Division of the tournament, playing the second half of the semifinal victory over West Ham United’s U-17s.
Beyond his experience with the Sounders Academy, Baker-Whiting has also played been involved with US Youth National Teams at both the U-14 and U-15 levels.
Baker-Whiting is a central midfielder, capable of playing multiple different midfield roles at the academy level. In his two appearances with Defiance he’s occupied one of the spots in the team’s double-pivot. Still a young player, he’s likely a ways away from being a regular contributor, but he’s still worth watching when he does see the field. A technical player and good passer who reads and understands space well, Baker-Whiting has shown glimpses of what he has to offer in his 31 minutes of action. In his first appearance against Sacramento Republic FC, entering the field as the team pushed for an equalizer, he struggled at times with the pace and physicality of the professional game, but still managed to connect most of his passes. In his brief stint against Portland Timbers 2 Baker-Whiting’s passing wasn’t as successful, but he showed an improved ability to make quick decisions and move the ball before being overpowered. Those adjustments aren’t a guarantee, but they should be a good indication for his future.
Hopefully he can bring the confidence he showed in this penalty shootout against LAFC from the 2019 Manchester City Cup.