The Seattle Sounders on Thursday announced the signing of University of Washington midfielder Handwalla Bwana (pronounced HOND-wall-uh BWON-uh) to a Homegrown contract, the 10th in club history. He is the latest on a list that includes DeAndre Yedlin, Sean Okoli, Aaron Kovar, Victor Mansaray, Darwin Jones, Jordan Schweitzer, Jordan Morris, Henry Wingo and Seyi Adekoya.
Bwana, 18, attended Ballard High School before spending the last two years playing for UW Head Coach Jamie Clark. Bwana joins Cristian Roldan and Wingo as Washington products on the current Sounders roster. Seattle selected Roldan, who had signed a Generation adidas contract, with the 16th pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft before inking Wingo to a Homegrown deal last offseason.
“Handwalla is a guy who can put defenses off-balance,” said Vice President of Soccer & Sporting Director Chris Henderson. “He’s proven it at the University of Washington and with our Academy. He can score goals. He creates chances for himself, and he’s great at running at guys with the ball. Being able to bring another Homegrown through the system is exciting for the group. It’s a testament to our Academy staff and what they’ve done with him at the University of Washington.”
Bwana recorded 12 goals and 13 assists in 39 career matches for the Huskies, including 26 starts, and was named the 2016 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year. This past fall he was named First Team All Pac-12 and First Team All-Far West after finishing second in the conference in points (22). TopDrawerSoccer also listed Bwana as the 25th-best player of the 2017 season and fourth in the Pac-12.
Originally from Mombasa, Kenya, Bwana and his family immigrated to Atlanta, Georgia, before eventually moving to Seattle. He played for Sounders FC Academy and Seattle United, a Sounders Academy partner, prior to his time at Washington.
“It’s an unbelievable moment,” Bwana said. “I never actually thought I’d be a pro from where I come from. I remember going to Sounders games for the first time, and it was incredible. The atmosphere was something I had never seen before. Being able to sign as a Homegrown, I can't believe it.”