The Seattle Sounders continued to add young talent, signing 16-year-old Reed Baker-Whiting to a Homegrown Player contract on Wednesday. The contract was announced as a four-year deal that has an option for a fifth year. He will be eligible for selection immediately. Baker-Whiting signed his first professional contract last July, becoming the youngest player the Tacoma Defiance had ever signed.
“Reed has shown promise in his time with the Academy and Tacoma Defiance, in addition to his extended time training in the First Team environment,” Sounders GM Garth Lagerwey said in a team statement. “It’s always nice to see young players climb the ranks within our development pipeline, and we look forward to seeing how Reed progresses from here.”
Baker-Whiting made seven appearances for the Defiance last season, including three starts, and went all 90 minutes in their season opener over the weekend. He had 73% passing and was 4/4 on tackles.
The Seattle native first joined the Sounders organization in 2016 through the Discovery Program from Seattle United. He featured for the Sounders U-12 team that won the prestigious Youdan Trophy, which featured wins over academies representing Manchester United, Crystal Palace and Liverpool. He also played for the U-14 and U-17 teams, including the squad that won the 2019 GA Cup. He began training with the first team at the end of last year and even traveled with them to MLS Cup. He’s been with the first team for most of preseason before the Defiance’s season-opener.
“Reed came to our attention last year because he fits a Seattle Sounder profile of hard work, grit, determination and his ability to adapt to the First Team training environment,” Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said. “We kept him in our First Team bubble last year, similar to Josh Atencio, and have seen the development in his overall understanding of our tactics and style of play. He has earned a chance to play for our club, and I hope he continues to improve in the physical and technical areas required to play at our level.”
Baker-Whiting has mostly played in the central midfield in box-to-box and defensive roles. Here’s what Dave Clark said about him in the recent Defiance preview:
With one of the highest ceilings of the midfield group, RBW needs a couple years of refinement to meet that target. Baker-Whiting spent nearly the entire preseason as an understudy with Schmetzer’s side. If he combines his significant growth spurt and that MLS quality coaching he could have a stellar 2021. Playing style: Brad Evans, the CM
Baker-Whiting is the 17th Homegrown Player the Sounders have signed from their academy all-time, eight of whom are still on first-team contracts. The Sounders first-team roster now stands at 23 players.
CURRENT SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC ROSTER
GOALKEEPERS (3): Stefan Cleveland, Stefan Frei, Spencer Richey
DEFENDERS (7): Yeimar Gómez Andrade, Xavier Arreaga, Jimmy Medranda, Nouhou, Shane O’Neill, Alex Roldan, Brad Smith
MIDFIELDERS (9): Josh Atencio, Reed Baker-Whiting, Jordy Delem, Ethan Dobbelaere, João Paulo, Danny Leyva, Nicolás Lodeiro, Cristian Roldan, Kelyn Rowe
FORWARDS (4): Will Bruin, Fredy Montero, Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez, Raúl Ruidíaz
PLAYERS ON LOAN (3): Shandon Hopeau (San Antonio FC), Jordan Morris (Swansea City), Trey Muse (San Diego Loyal SC)