FEATURE: Cade Cowell - A 15-year-old fighting for minutes

Who is Cade Cowell? The native of Ceres, Calif. may be relatively unknown to Earthquakes fans now, but that could change in the near future.

Joining the team last month, Cowell became the youngest to ever sign a Homegrown Player contract with the Quakes and fourth youngest in Major League Soccer history at just 15 years and 102 days. He broke the record set by Jacob Akanyirige in Dec. 2017, and re-set by Gilbert Fuentes one month after that.

“I still have to get used to being a professional soccer player,” said Cowell in-between training sessions on Tuesday. “It’s still a huge thing that I have the title of professional now in front of it. It’s super exciting but it hasn’t hit me yet.”

Cowell, like all players just turning pro, is focused on getting better each and every day. He admitted that the language barrier with a mostly Spanish-speaking coaching staff has been ‘very challenging,’ but believes the interpreter has helped him overcome a lot of those issues.

Most 15, 16, or 17-year-olds that turn pro, and there are not many of them, face the challenge of being physically immature compared to existing professionals. But Cowell is different in that he’s developed beyond his years. When training with the first team in 2018, his future teammates couldn’t believe he was still in junior high.

“Last year, I was blown away when someone told me Cade was 14,” said veteran Shea Salinas, who is entering his 12th MLS season. “I thought he was 18 or 19. He’s built. He’s fast. It’s just shocking that he’s only 15 and able to do the things that he does.”

Regardless, Cowell still has a long way to go in his development, which is what has people most excited. Despite being tasked with a challenging first few weeks as a pro, he is showing the right attitude and a willingness to learn from the best.

“I’ve learned a lot from Chris Wondolowski on his work ethic and how he communicates with everyone on the field, his leadership. I learned a lot from him just watching him at training the whole time.

“I’m really enjoying training camp. It’s been a lot of running, a lot of hard work, but I’m really enjoying it. It’s going to make me a better player.”

Fuentes, who turns 17 this month, made one MLS appearance as a rookie in 2018 – a stoppage-time cameo against Colorado on Oct. 21 – to set the record for youngest appearance by a Quakes player. Cowell will be looking to shatter that mark in 2019, if all goes according to plan, and won’t turn 16 until after the regular season has concluded.

“My first goal is to get on the field as quick as possible.”

And with head coach Matias Almeyda’s trust in young players, anything is possible. The Earthquakes have the legendary Wondolowski and reigning team MVP Danny Hoesen as their two primary strikers, with Vako, Magnus Eriksson and new signing Cristian Espinoza capable of playing the position in a secondary role. However, Cowell’s speed takes a backseat to no one on the roster (although the ever-young Salinas may still have something to say about that). That asset may come in handy at some point in the season.

“Cade has a bright future ahead of him,” said Almeyda at the time of the signing.

“It is up to him how far he will go.”

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