Tonight’s friendly vs. Celta de Vigo is an exciting, and rare, opportunity for the San Jose Earthquakes to pit themselves against a LaLiga side. Wednesday’s match also comes at a fairly congested part of the season, with the team just concluding three matches in nine days and plans to leave for Portland on Friday. With that being said, expect San Jose to feature a rotated squad to keep players fresh for the playoff chase while also providing opportunities for young players to make a name for themselves against a quality opponent.
The club’s roster has numerous exciting young players that have been cutting their teeth with Quakes II in MLS NEXT Pro this season, including Homegrowns Cruz Medina (15), Will Richmond (22), Niko Tsakiris (17), and Casey Walls (19), as well as 2022 first-round SuperDraft selections Ousseni Bouda (22) and Oskar Ågren (23). These players, among others, could all feature vs. Celta. Fifteen-year-old Medina, who signed in June, has yet to make an appearance for the first team.
Quakes General Manager Chris Leitch has said on numerous occasions how important player development is to the short- and long-term success of the club. First-team playing opportunities are an integral part of that development plan and should not be overlooked.
Tsakiris, who turned 17 on June 19, is fresh off helping the United States U20 National Team qualify for next year’s FIFA U20 World Cup and 2024 Summer Olympics. He was the second-youngest player on the U.S. roster.