The eighth-seeded San Jose Earthquakes will travel to Kansas this week to compete against top-seeded Sporting KC in the first round of the Major League Soccer Cup Playoffs.
Family members, friends, former classmates and fans of Cade Cowell will be glued to their televisions this Sunday as the 17-year-old Ceres native could see playing time at wing/forward.
Cowell graduated from Cesar Chavez Jr. High in 2018.
Parents Debin and Amber, and younger siblings Chance and Cylee will be rooting for Cade from their house in Ceres.
“We don’t plan on traveling,” said Debin, Cade’s father. “We’ll just watch the game at home like we always do. We (Amber and I) get really nervous and anxious.”
Brian de la Porte and Jason Martin have both watched the majority of Cowell’s games this season.
Brian is a longtime friend of the Cowells.
He graduated from Ceres High School with Debin and Amber in 1999.
He was at the hospital when Cade was born in 2003.
“I’ll more than likely watch the game from home by myself,” de la Porte said. “I tend to yell at my TV a lot. Then I’ll probably head over to Debo’s and Amber’s house after it’s over. That’s been the routine.”
Martin was Cowell’s eighth-grade history teacher and track and field coach at Chavez Jr. High.
“He ran track for us,” Martin said. “I don’t think he lost any event we put him in. He’s an amazing athlete.”
Martin became a fan of the Earthquakes after Cowell signed with the MLS club in 2019.
“It was a smart move by the Quakes,” he said. “He’s fun to watch. He usually responds when I text him after games.”
“I’m so happy for Cade,” Martin added. “All of his hard work is starting to pay off. His future is bright. But it’s great what he’s doing right now.”
The Earthquakes (8-9-6) will battle Sporting KC (12-6-3) at Children’s Mercy Park.
The Western Conference playoff game will be broadcast at 1 p.m. on FS1 and Fox Deportes.
“When you get to playoffs, the intensity is at another level,” said de la Porte, a longtime high school boys basketball coach. “Everything is on the line. One mistake can send you home.”
“I know Cade’s looking forward to the game and experience,” he added. “I’m happy for him. I’m proud of him. He plays hard. He knows how to stay focused. He’s a great kid.”
Cowell and the Earthquakes secured a Western Conference postseason berth with a 3-2 win over Los Angeles FC on Oct. 4 in San Jose.
He contributed off the bench during the second half.
Cowell entered the game in the 87th minute.
He almost scored his second goal of the season.
Cowell used his speed to beat two defenders before having his left-footed shot on a one-on-one breakaway deflected by Los Angeles goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer.
Vermeer just got his fingertips on the ball.
Cowell made his fourth start of the season as the Earthquakes closed out the regular season with a 4-1 loss to host Seattle Sounders FC on Nov. 8.
He played the entire match.
San Jose earned the Western Conference’s eighth-and-final playoff spot thanks to an impressive run late in the season.
The Earthquakes amassed a 6-3-1 record during their final 10 matches.
San Jose totaled four shutouts.
“It’s really exiting to reach the playoffs and who would have thought after that rough stretch of games,” Debin Cowell said.
Cowell has logged playing time in 17 games during his second season with the Earthquakes.
He’s started four times.
Cowell’s collected one goal and one assist.
He’s attempted 14 shots.
Cowell didn’t make any appearances in MLS play as a rookie.
“For the limited time he’s gotten, it’s been really positive,” de la Porte said.
“When he comes in, he does a great job,” Martin stated. “He doesn’t look like a teenager. He’s always looked like he belonged. It’s a testament to his work ethic, speed and strength. He’s surprised a lot of defenders. He’s been impressive.”
“He’s much more confident this year but still hasn’t started to play how he’s capable,” Debin Cowell added. “He’s just trying to fill the role they need and trying not to make mistakes. He’s still thinking too much and is not as instinctive as he normally is. That will come with time and experience.”
Cowell inked a five-year contract with San Jose at the age of 15 in January of 2019.
He became the youngest player signing in Earthquakes and Bay Area team sports history.
“He visited campus after he signed,” Martin said. “I took him around to see his old teachers. He’s such a great kid. Debin and Amber did a great job raising him.”
Cowell entered the record books on Aug. 29 by becoming the youngest player to start and score in team history in San Jose’s narrow 3-2 loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy.
He also became the eighth-youngest goalscorer in league history.
Cowell made his MLS debut against Minnesota United FC on March 7.
“He hasn’t even scratched the surface yet of his ability,” Debin Cowell said. “Once it all clicks, and the game slows down for him, he’s going to be a problem on defenses. This next year will be a very big year for him.”