The San Jose Earthquakes are continuing preparations for the 2023 season by hosting a local combine to further evaluate young players looking to break into the professional ranks.
The Quakes invited 110 players primarily ranging from 17 to 23 years of age to a two-day showcase from Dec. 6-7 at San Jose State. While players hailed from all over the United States, most were from universities on the West Coast, including Stanford, UCLA, San Diego State, San Jose State, Oregon State, and UC Irvine, among others. There was no registration fee for participants.
The combine was organized by head scout Bruno Costa and allowed first team and second team coaches to get an in-person look at dozens of aspiring pros. While the combine largely serves as a mechanism to fill out the Quakes II roster, promising players who perform well at the MLS NEXT Pro level may have a pathway to the first team.
Kikanović was identified by San Jose during his two years at Sacramento State, invited to the combine ahead of the 2020 season, and earned a contract with then USL Championship affiliateReno 1868 FC. He then made the jump to the Quakes’ first team in 2021 and has since scored 10 goals in 47 MLS appearances, earning the club’s Young Player of the Year award in 2022.
Castro Jr. was a two-year player at San Jose State and impressed at the 2022 combine. He signed a pro contract with Quakes II and went on to lead the team with 12 goals in 20 appearances.
The Quakes will now send first team staff to the NCAA Tournament Final Four and college showcase, which runs from Dec. 9-12 in North Carolina. The competition will be San Jose’s final in-person look at college players before the MLS SuperDraft on Dec. 21. The Quakes currently hold the fourth pick in each of the three rounds of the draft.