UPDATE: The Sounders made the news official on Wednesday.
“I am so excited to have Chris join Tacoma Defiance and begin his professional journey,” Tacoma Defiance Head Coach Wade Webber said in a statement. “He has been part of our Academy program for years and has demonstrated over the last 12 months that he is ready to take this next step. His ability to score goals of all kinds and consistently be a threat might be what separates him from his peers, but I am confident he has the mentality needed to work at training on all aspects of his game and face challenges with humility and resolve. We can’t predict the future, but I know Chris is prepared to face whatever comes his way.”
Chris Aquino has signed a professional contract with the Tacoma Defiance, Sounder at Heart has learned. Aquino has been one of the Sounders Academy’s top prospects over the past year, which included a starring performance in their GA Cup title.
More recently, Aquino scored two goals at MLS Next Fest in Coachella, Calif, including a particularly impressive solo effort.
— Sounders FC Academy (@SoundersAcademy) December 5, 2022
U-17’s Chris Aquino scores an incredible goal at @MLSNEXT Fest! pic.twitter.com/295K7aZYp2
Aquino, 16, apparently had several other opportunities. One source indicated he had received scholarship offers from collegiate powerhouses Clemson and the University of Washington. He had also been offered a professional contract by USL Championship team New Mexico United.
Aquino has mostly played as a 10, but seems to be more of a goal-scorer than a playmaker. Despite being relatively young, he has already trained extensively with the Defiance, but has not yet played for them. But given his nose for goal, Aquino could find his way onto the field relatively quickly.
Wade Webber’s side will also likely skew a bit younger this year. The Defiance allowed many of their older players to leave after 2022. Hal Uderitz (23) and Travian Sousa (21) are the only outfield players older than 20 on the current roster. It is expected that several more teens will be added before the 2023 season.