The first thing everyone notes about Sounders FC 2 midfielder Azriel Gonzalez is his youth. The second thing mentioned is the potential talent hidden within the 16-year-old Las Vegas native.
At the time of his signing with S2, in July of 2017, Gonzalez was just 15 years old, making him the youngest player signed to a professional contract in club history. Along with teammates like Sam Rogers, Gonzalez is a Sounders Academy prospect, and has been since he was 13.
From day one he has impressed the S2 staff, as well as the first team technical staff and player development crew, with his work ethic and raw instincts for the game. All of his work paid off with an invitation to train with the first team last January.
At the time of his signing, former Sounders Director of Player Personnel Kurt Schmid said, “Azriel is a very talented young player and we’re excited to have him in our organization. Since joining the Academy, Azriel has embodied the type of players we aim to develop in our system. We are very excited in his long-term potential.”
Azriel Gonzalez has earned extensive playing time with the US Youth National Team in recent years, receiving call-ups to join the squad for the Val-De-Marne Tournament in France, the IMG Cup, and the International Dream Cup in Japan. Overall, he has compiled 10 caps with the USYNT to go along with 4 goals and 2 assists.
Gonzalez joined the Sounders Academy at just 13 years old, and always shined in his appearances across the youth teams, even when playing up above his age group. In 19 appearances with the Sounders FC U-16 squad, he tallied 11 goals and went on to add a goal while playing with the U-18s.
Over nine games and 339 minutes with Sounders FC 2 last season, Gonzalez showed off what has many excited about his potential, posting a passing success rate of nearly 66 percent while winning 6-of-7 tackle attempts and adding an assist.
In addition to his time with S2, Gonzalez has earned a great deal of valuable experience training with the first team.
“It’s a whole other level,” Gonzalez said to the Seattle Times last January. “The speed of play. The physicality. These guys are like grown men and I have to play really smart and with confidence in order to adapt here.”
Since joining the Academy and moving his family to the region, Gonzalez has grown to love the Pacific Northwest while advancing his career at a rate even he never anticipated.
Azriel Gonzalez and S2 open the 2018 USL campaign at home at Cheney Stadium on Friday, March 16 as the club takes on their Cascadia rival Portland Timbers 2. Single-match tickets are available for all S2 home matches, and can be purchased here.