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Cowell, Earthquakes secure MLS playoff berth
Cade Cowell  kicks
Cade Cowell and the San Jose Earthquakes will face host Sporting Kansas City in the first round of the MLS Cup Playoffs on Nov. 22.

The San Jose Earthquakes are headed back to the Major League Soccer playoffs following a two-year absence.

Ceres native Cade Cowell, 17, and the Earthquakes secured a Western Conference postseason berth with a 3-2 win over Los Angeles FC on Oct. 4 in San Jose.

“I told the players a while ago that it’s not in my dictionary of life to ever give up,” head coach Matias Almeyda said. “I’ve gone through very good and bad times in my life and in my football career. I’ve built my career as a coach with this same mentality (to never give up). I treat the players in a humane way deservingly so and I never focus on a single result, which is why we got back up.”

Cowell, a 5-foot-11 166-pound winger/forward, contributed off the bench following intermission.

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 one-on-one breakaway deflected by Los Angeles goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer.

Vermeer just got his fingertips on the ball.

"I think with time and experience, he scores a lot of goals next year. He’s just happy to be a part of things right now. His time will come.”
Debin Cowell, Cade’s father

“He was happy for the win and upset he didn’t finish,” said Debin Cowell, Cade’s father. “The last two times he dribbled in too far before shooting so this time he let it go on the first touch. Keeper made a great save. It happens. I think with time and experience, he scores a lot of goals next year. He’s just happy to be a part of things right now. His time will come.”

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 Sunday evening.

He played the entire match.

“It makes me happy to see Cade Cowell be able to play 90 minutes, as well as seeing the other youngsters come on,” Almeyda said.

San Jose (8-9-6) 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.

“I definitely believe we’re good enough to make playoffs,” Cowell stated during an Oct. 5 interview with The Courier. “It’s going to take a lot of hard work. We have to keep pushing every single game.”

“We really stayed calm, careful, and we kept faith in our difficult moments,” Almeyda added. “But we doubled down on our bet and corrected things. When the players began to regain their confidence, I knew there was a possibility to come back. I told the players that today was an important date for me, in which now I will write down in my victory book; despite what happens beyond playoffs. It was not easy to pick up what had previously fallen. So, I am very happy and very thankful.”

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.

“I’m pretty happy with how everything is going,” Cowell stated. “I didn’t think I’d get as many minutes this year. You always have to be mentally and physical ready. It’s definitely been really fun. It’s a great group to play with. Everybody is super supportive.”

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.

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.

The visiting Earthquakes will face top-seeded Sporting Kansas City (12-6-3) in the opening round of the MLS Cup Playoffs on Nov. 22 at Children’s Mercy Park.