Jason Kreis, head coach of the U-23 U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team, answered a host of questions during a Jan. 12 press conference.
He talked about the challenges of building a roster.
He talked about young talent being developed domestically and overseas.
A total of 26 American players were invited to the U-23 training camp, which is being staged this month Florida.
“With Olympic qualifying approaching quickly, this training camp is a great opportunity to prepare ourselves and evaluate some new faces,” Kreis said. “While 2020 was a very challenging year, it was impressive to see so many U-23-eligible players make major strides on the field.”
A first-time call-up to the U-23 USMNT, Ceres native Cade Cowell just completed his first week of training at the IMG Academy in Bradenton.
The U-23 squad will train alongside the senior team through Jan. 24. Several players will be added to the USMNT roster for a match at the end of the month.
“Our last camp was cut short due to COVID,” Kreis said. “We’re eager and excited to get underway. We’ve had a couple days of training. The guys look really good and so far we’ve been really pleased with what we’ve gotten.”
Cowell turned 17 in October.
He’s 15 months younger than any other player on the U-23 roster.
“I just want to do well and prove that I belong and that the stage is not too big for me,” Cowell said leading up to the January Training Camp. “Hopefully, God will allow me to shine.”
“The amount of young, super-high potential players that have been produced in our soccer system right now is fantastic,” Kreis said. “A whole lot of people should be commended and congratulated for that.”
Cowell tallied a goal while making his U.S. National Team debut at the under-16 level in September of 2018. He was then promoted to the U.S. U-17s for the Nike International Friendlies later in the month, where he appeared in all three matches and scored against Chile.
He led the nation with 34 goals in 32 appearances for the Ballistic United under-15 team during the 2017-18 U.S. Soccer Development Academy season.
Cowell was added to the U-23 USMNT roster following a productive second season of professional soccer in MLS. The 5-foot-11 166-pound winger/forward didn’t expect to play in the majority of the San Jose Earthquakes’ matches.
“If you work hard, good things happen,” said Debin Cowell, Cade’s father.
Cowell made 18 appearances with the Earthquakes, including four as a starter.
He collected one goal and one assist.
He attempted 16 shots.
“Every single day, you have to prove something,” Cowell said. “You have to take every practice and game serious. If you have a bad week of training, there’s a chance you might not get rostered. It’s super competitive. I just try to work as hard as possible.”
Cowell accomplished several firsts with San Jose in 2020.
He became the youngest player in Earthquakes’ history to make a postseason appearance.
Cowell and eighth-seeded San Jose fell short in their bid to upset top-seeded Sporting Kansas City in Round One of the Major League Soccer Cup Playoffs.
San Jose lost 3-0 in a penalty-kick shootout to Sporting KC after the two teams battled to a 3-3 tie through regulation and extra time on Nov. 22 at Children’s Mercy Park.
“We were very confident going into the match,” Cowell said. “We had two weeks to prepare for them. We gave it our all from the very first minute until the very last. We showed we could compete with the No. 1 team.”
Cowell entered the contest as a substitute late in the second half.
He had two scoring chances against Sporting KC, including one during extra time.
He threatened from close-range in the 113th minute.
Cowell’s left-footed shot from the right side was saved by Kansas City goalkeeper Tim Melia.
“I thought I could have done a lot better,” Cowell said while talking about his overall performance against Sporting KC. “I’m going to focus on my finishing (during the offseason).”
The Earthquakes compiled an 8-10-6 overall record on the season.
Cowell helped the Earthquakes secure their first playoff berth since 2017 with a 3-2 win over Los Angeles FC on Oct. 4 in San Jose.
He 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 breakaway deflected by Los Angeles goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer.
Cowell made his fourth career start 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.
The Earthquakes collected four wins, one loss and one tie in a 22-day span.
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 was just 16 at the time.
Cowell made his MLS debut against Minnesota United FC on March 7.
He didn’t make any appearances in league play as a rookie.
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.