In the last few seasons, the Quakes Academy has emerged as one of the premier youth setups in all of Major League Soccer. In addition to churning out young first-team contributors such as Cade Cowell and Niko Tsakiris, the pipeline has also seen up-and-comers Emi Ochoa and Cruz Medina, among others, sign professional contracts and continue their development with the second team.
The Quakes Academy had three players selected to the MLS NEXT All-Star Game: the aforementioned Ochoa and Medina, as well as center back Drew Murray. San Jose’s trio is the most of all teams in the Western Conference and tied with Inter Miami CF and the Philadelphia Union for most in all of MLS. However, Earthquakes fans can be excited to learn that San Jose will actually have a fourth player in Minnesota.
Forward Roka Tsunehara, a product of De Anza Force Soccer Club, has officially joined the Quakes youth system and will compete for the U17s during the 2022-23 MLS NEXT season. Tsunehara, 16, had a banner year in 2021-22. In addition to being one of just five players from a non-MLS club invited to the MLS NEXT All-Star Game, Tsunehara was also named the MLS NEXT Most Valuable Player across the entire country at the U16 level.
During the 2021-22 season, Tsunehara scored 25 goals in 24 matches. He led De Anza Force to the semifinals of the 2022 MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs and scored four goals in as many matches during the competition. His remarkable playoff performance also includes a 90th-minute game-winning penalty kick to see De Anza advance past Weston FC in the quarterfinals.
The MLS NEXT All-Star Game, which kicks off at 9 a.m. PT on Wednesday, Aug. 10, will be streamed live on Twitter and mlssoccer.com. Congratulations to Roka Tsunehara on his new opportunity with the Quakes Academy and good luck to the four players representing San Jose in Minnesota!