SEATTLE, WASH. – MLS NEXT today announced the 45 players selected to the inaugural MLS NEXT All-Star Game presented by Allstate, with Tacoma Defiance defender* Stuart Hawkins* and Sounders FC Academy forward* Christopher Aquino* both named to the West roster.
Two teams will compete in an East vs. West format at the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minnesota on Wednesday, August 10, the day of the MLS All-Star Game. 28 of the 29 MLS academies had at least one player selected to the inaugural rosters, with Inter Miami CF, Philadelphia Union and San Jose Earthquakes leading the way with three selections apiece. Five non-MLS academies are also represented in Blaine: Barca Residency Academy, De Anza Force, PDA, Strikers and the San Francisco Glens.
"When your best players are also your best people, then you have a unique athlete,” said Sounders FC Vice President of Player Development Henry Brauner. “And that’s what we have with Stuart and Christopher. Them being selected to the All-Star team reaffirms the resolute nature that the development side puts into the players every day. We surround the players with people who are selfless and have the best interest of the players in mind first and foremost and when we are able to do this, the players will have the success they strive for. Their selection confirms that we are on the right path."
The 45 players were chosen by the MLS NEXT Player Selection Committee, which is made up of key MLS Player Development department personnel, following the conclusion of the MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs and Showcase. Players must have been U-18 (born in 2004 or earlier) and have competed in one of the MLS NEXT national showcase events this season, including MLS NEXT Fest, MLS NEXT Flex, Generation adidas Cup and MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs and Showcase.
The MLS NEXT Player Selection Committee also advised on the selection of the coaching staff for both East and West clubs. The head coach of the East team is Javier Morales, who appeared in 255 MLS matches across his 11-year playing career and is currently an Inter Miami CF Academy coach. Leading the West squad is Jeremy Hall, who played 127 games for five MLS teams during his MLS playing career and is currently an Assistant Coach for MNUFC2 of MLS NEXT Pro.
The match is being streamed live, with further tune-in details available at a later date. Admission to the MLS NEXT All-Star Game presented by Allstate at the National Sports Center is free of cost.
Also of note, yesterday MLS NEXT announced its 2021-2022 regular season award winners, with Sounders FC Academy player Sebastian Gomez winning the U-15 MLS NEXT Goal of the Year presented by Allstate for his top corner blast in a 3-2 win over LA Galaxy at Starfire Stadium on March 13.
SOUNDERS FC 2022 MLS NEXT ALL-STAR SELECTIONS
DEFENDER STUART HAWKINS
Starting in the Sounders Discovery Program at age 12, Hawkins was a full-time member of the Academy by age 14. He most recently signed his first professional contract with Tacoma Defiance on June 23. Prior to signing, Hawkins helped lead Sounder FC’s U-17 Academy team to the Generation Adidas Cup title, being named Most Valuable Player in the process. Hawkins has three starts for Defiance this year, including last week against Sporting KC II. Hawkins has also represented the United States Men’s Youth National Team at the U-14 and U-17 levels.
FORWARD CHRISTOPHER AQUINO
Also joining the Sounders Discovery Program at age 12, Aquino has developed into a dynamic striker, helping lead Seattle’s U-17 Academy team to the GA Cup title, then scoring four goals against Portland the following weekend. Like Hawkins, the Pasco, Washington native has also represented the United States Men’s Youth National Team at the U-14 level.