On the evening of Thursday, Sept. 6, the San Jose Earthquakes’ Avaya Stadium will host a college soccer match between the University of California, Berkeley and Sacramento State.
Cal will be bringing numerous ties to the Earthquakes when they step on the field Thursday. Among them is head coach Kevin Grimes, who was selected by the San Jose Clash during the Inaugural Player Draft in 1996. He has served as the Golden Bears’ head coach since 2000 and has been named the Pac-12 Coach of the Year five times.
The Golden Bears’ are led by senior forward and leading scorer Sam Ebstein, junior goalkeeper and MAC Hermann Trophy watchlist member Drake Callender, sophomore defender and Jamaica U-20 selection Christopher Grey, sophomore midfielder Alonzo Del Mundo and freshman defender and U.S. U-19 selection Jean-Julien Foe Nuphaus.
This quintet of Quakes Academy alumni have started all three games to date, leading Cal to a 2-1 record after wins over Detroit Mercy and Incarnate Word and an overtime loss to Pacific. Foe Nuphaus will not be present on Thursday due to a recent call-up to the U.S. U-19 Men’s National Team.
Overall, Cal’s roster has seven former Quakes Academy players, many of which are among the brightest prospects the youth academy has ever produced.
Grey, who has earned multiple call-ups to U.S. youth national teams at the U-14 and U-18 levels, was also called into the Jamaica U-20s at just 16 years old. The left back appears to have a strong future and a good head on his shoulders.
“Continuing to improve every day in training is something that I want to accomplish,” explained Grey. “Collectively as a team, our goal is to win the Pac-12, make the NCAA Tournament, and be a team that consistently puts the other team under pressure.”
The native of San Jose is looking forward to playing at the Earthquakes’ home on Thursday, something he has done a couple times previously.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to play at Avaya Stadium. I’ve played there a couple times in the academy, once against Santa Cruz and also against the First Team. It’s always a great atmosphere and a really cool opportunity to play in a professional stadium. Definitely can’t take it for granted. Should be a good game tomorrow.”
While Grey has his sights set on helping Cal to the Pac-12 championship, his ultimate goal is to earn a spot on the Quakes roster through a Homegrown contract.
“I think that would be a great opportunity if it comes. It’s something that I continue to work for each and every day. I look at the current Homegrown Players and strive to get better just like they do. I think that’s the ultimate goal for most academy players that go off to college. I believe if I work hard, do all the right things and help my team win, at least I know I did my best.”
The left back certainly isn’t without proper guidance. Quakes defender Nick Lima signed a Homegrown contract with San Jose after four years at the University of California, Berkeley. The two have a considerable about in common and Grey recognizes him as a good role model.
“I look up to him immensely. He paved the way. He was a right back here at Cal and excelled both academically and athletically. This past summer when I was training with the First Team, I spoke to him a few times. We talked about how Cal is as a soccer program and said that I just need to improve every day and strive to make the team better and ultimately things will play out as they do. I’ve looked up to him for a couple years now and that’s somewhere I see myself in the next few years so we’ll see how it goes.”