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Stuart Hawkins called in to US U-17s

The Academy defender joins the team for matches against Belgium, Italy and Portugal.

Sounders FC Digital

Stuart Hawkins is having quite the year so far in 2022. Not long removed from winning the Generation Adidas Cup with the Sounders Academy U-17s and earning tournament MVP, the kid from Fox Island has been called in for a US U-17s camp in Portugal. This will be the third U-17 camp for Hawkins, who has participated in every camp for the age group in 2022.

The camp will be held in Castelo Branco, Portugal from May 1-11, and is structured around a UEFA Development Tournament. The tournament’s other planned participants are Belgium, Italy and Portugal, with all teams playing each other once. The US will play Italy on May 5, Belgium on May 7, and Portugal on May 10.

As the US and other countries prepare for qualifying for the 2023 U-17 World Cup in Peru, this camp and tournament will provide an excellent opportunity for this group to build familiarity and test themselves against some of Europe’s top players in the age group. Hawkins did not participate in the first camp of the current cycle — that first camp did feature Hawkins’s Sounders Academy teammate Michael Luande when it took place back in October 2021, however — but since the start of 2022 it seems as though he’s made an impression on head coach Gonzalo Segares and his staff in both his performances with the US and the Sounders.

“He’s been good, frankly, in those settings,” Tacoma Defiance head coach Wade Webber said about Hawkins’ time with the youth national team in an interview with Dave Clark. “I watched him play for the U-17s earlier this year. He went to a camp and I thought he was quite good. He is — I think it’s important for him to continue to get [those opportunities].”

Beyond his exploits with the US and winning GA Cup, Hawkins was notably one of the last academy players among the Seattle Sounders’ preseason camp. Since then he’s continued to impress people all throughout the Sounders organization and seems to have put himself in a strong position to become the next among this crop of young players to sign a professional contract. As Webber puts it, “Stuart Hawkins is going to be big enough and technical enough to be a pro centerback, and he’s a young ’06.” But it’s not all about the physical tools. While Hawkins has shown maturity in his time with the academy, there’s still a lot of growth to come before he’s necessarily ready to step up to the next level, or to take the leap into the First Team.

“He will be tall. He’ll be big enough as an athlete, and he’ll be technical enough,” Webber said when asked about his pro prospects. “His feet are good enough, they’re going to continue to get better, but right now I can say with certainty that those two things are the case? Will he be athletic enough? Will he be tactically aware enough, mentally and physically, to endure going to Mexico City and playing Pumas in a Champions League Final? That’s what we’re trying to create, are guys that [have those qualities], and those are much more difficult to predict.”

There’s plenty that the club can do to help get players ready for these challenges, but some things the players have to do within themselves. “I know that we have a performance staff, certainly on the Defiance side but absolutely on the First Team side, that will get him there, athletically. He’ll be fast enough and strong enough, in addition to being technical enough. But so much of the game is played between the ears.” For now, the next stop along the path is with the US U-17s. Where that path leads, only time will tell.

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