The future is bright for the Seattle Sounders.
Tacoma Defiance center back Stu Hawkins (16) and Sounders Academy forward Chris Aquino (16) featured in the first-ever MLS NEXT All-Star Game on Wednesday morning. Billed as a showcase for the future of Major League Soccer, the MLS NEXT All-Star Game brought together the top 44 academy players in the country to compete in an East vs. West format as part of the festivities leading into the MLS All-Star Game in Minnesota this evening.
It was a tale of two halves as the West took an early lead in the match, but the East team stormed back and scored two goals after the 85th minute to snag a 2-1 victory.
Hawkins, who signed with the Defiance after starring for the Sounders U-17's as they won Generation adidas Cup, started the match and played 45 minutes for the West. A rangy, ball-playing defender, Hawkins shut down the East's attack with his intelligent positioning. It served as another litmus test for the Fox Island native, who has parlayed his strong performances at the club level into a regular role with the United States U-17 Men's National Team this year.
Aquino, who hails from Pasco, Wash., started the second half at striker for the West. While his team struggled for control after the halftime break, most of their opportunities came via Aquino's combination play and chance creation in the final third.