It’s scary how much Cade Cowell has accomplished this early in his professional career. He has already made 81 MLS appearances, scored nine goals, and provided 12 assists. He was selected to the 2021 MLS All-Star Game, has been a regular with the U.S. U20 National Team, and was recently named Man of the Match in his first start for the senior national team in last month’s friendly against Serbia.
All this, and more, and he’s still eight months away from turning 20.
It’s no surprise how Cowell stood out among his peers as a youth player. He’s a freak athlete with athleticism, strength, and speed in abundance. The term ‘man among boys’ is an accurate description as he went up against other 14 and 15-year-olds at the academy level. What is surprising is how quickly that has also translated to an athletic advantage against top-level professional athletes.
“I definitely didn’t expect to stand out athletically as quickly as I did [in MLS], but that’s what helped me a lot,” Cowell explained. “When I first started training [with the first team], that was always my strength, so I relied on that. It was an easy way out for me. But then slowly I started developing other aspects of my game, working on my touch.
“I’m continuing to work on being more clinical in front of goal. If I can improve on that and score more goals, that will take my game to the next level.”
When asked which parts of his game he wished people noticed other than his athleticism, he pointed to his passing.
“I think I’m good at passing and finding the open man.”
That growing quality can be exemplified in his assist vs. Minnesota United FC on Wednesday, as he raced past his defender before playing an out-swinging through ball to Cristian Espinoza for the goal.
Cowell has a history of starting fast. He scored on his first professional touch in a friendly against Mexico’s Monterrey. He scored in his first MLS start against the LA Galaxy. He scored in his international debut with the U.S. U17 National Team. He scored in his USL Championship debut with Reno 1868 FC. He oh-so-nearly bagged several goals for the USMNT in his first senior start, hitting the post on multiple occasions.
After a breakout 2021 season, in which he tallied five goals and six assists – both still high-watermarks for his young career, Cowell had another solid year in 2022. The 2022 season saw his self-described favorite moment of his career, a stunning game-winning volley against LAFC.
He’s looking to build on those opportunities and have a strong individual and team season in 2023.
“A perfect year would be if we make playoffs and go on a deep run from there. It would be huge to have a good playoff run,” Cowell explained from the team hotel in Palm Springs. “I’d like to contribute more goals and assists. I’m also looking forward to the U20 World Cup and hopefully going there and showing well.”
Cowell is a likely candidate to represent the United States at the FIFA U20 World Cup in May, as is 17-year-old teammate Niko Tsakiris. As he thinks of future opportunities, including the World Cup here in the United States in 2026, he keeps himself grounded.
“You have to think about , but it’s not my priority right now. My priority is San Jose and then the U20 World Cup in May. After that will be the Olympics in 2024. Those three things are what I’m working for right now.”