The San Jose Earthquakes U-15 Academy player, Cruz Medina was awarded MLS NEXT’s U-15 Golden Ball for the 2021 MLS NEXT Cup. The award honors the best player in their respective age group.
Medina has been a part of the Quakes Academy for two years and counting.
The 2021 MLS NEXT Tournament
Medina scored the game winning goal against LA Surf at the beginning of the tournament.
“It was so exciting. It was crazy.” Medina shared. “I actually didn’t think it was going to go in, but as we celebrated with the U-17s it was a dream come true to be able to score on TV and in front of my parents.”
Although the Quakes were unable to defeat Real Salt Lake in the semifinals, Medina made an impact on the field as his performance would eventually earn him the Golden Ball in his division.
“I’m just really happy. I’m proud of myself because of all the work I’ve been putting in and thankful that I’m in the position that I’m in today.” Medina said. “I’m thankful for all my coaches, my teammates, my family, just everything.”
Medina began to play soccer with his dad’s club Bay City around the age of four and played there until he was 11.
Prior to joining the Quakes Academy, Medina was competing for the SF Glens, an affiliate of the Quakes’ Partners in Development program.
“Steven Sosa was the coach for the Glens Academy and the Earthquakes Academy at the time.” Medina explained. “As the season went on, I started training with the Quakes during the season. By the end of that season, I made the transition.”
Under Sosa, Medina was given the opportunity to simultaneously train with the Quakes Academy and transitioned fully in 2018 with the U-14s.
The concept of “familia” is evident not only in the first team, but also in the Academy. Medina explained how close the team is.
“All of us, we really bond just a lot. We talk on and off the field.” Shared Medina. “We’re really close as a team.”
The 2021 MLS NEXT Cup provided an opportunity for the U-15s to continue to bond.
“The experience was great.” Medina said. “Being able to bond with my teammates was great. It was a great experience to go to the semifinals.”
Medina shared how he plans to rest, recover, and train this offseason. He also shared how grateful he is for where he is today.
“I want to thank everyone that has put me in this position; my coaches, family and friends.” Medina said. “I’m just thankful that all of them helped me get to where I am today.”