Lou Toste heaped praise on former Ceres Youth Soccer Organization player Cade Cowell this past week.
Cowell just returned home from Florida.
He was a first-time call-up to the U-23 U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team Training Camp, which was staged Jan. 9-24 at the IMG Academy in Bradenton.
“I’m very proud of the kid because he’s from Ceres and was part of our league when he started kicking the ball for the first time,” said Toste, longtime president of CYSO. “He’s going to reach his dream if he continues to work hard. He’s big-time. He can go all the way to Europe.”
Cowell, a 5-foot-11 166-pound winger/forward, turned 17 in October.
He was 15 months younger than any other player on the U-23 roster.
“I am not sure when and if I will get a call back. But it was an overall awesome experience that makes me realize I need to work hard every day to stay on that level. Being a part of that someday when I am ready will be a dream come true. Now, it’s time to get back to training and earn a starting spot at San Jose.”Cade Cowell
“I am not sure when and if I will get a call back,” Cowell said. “But it was an overall awesome experience that makes me realize I need to work hard every day to stay on that level. Being a part of that someday when I am ready will be a dream come true. Now, it’s time to get back to training and earn a starting spot at San Jose.”
The U-23 squad trained alongside the senior team, which routed Trinidad and Tobago 7-0 during a friendly match on Sunday in Orlando.
“The most enjoyable part was just being around the guys and watching them on a daily basis,” Cowell said. “I have always wanted to be at that level and the guys were amazing. They all treated me like part of the family.”
Cowell was added to the U-23 USMNT roster following a productive second season of professional soccer in Major League Soccer (MLS).
He didn’t expect to play in the majority of the San Jose Earthquakes’ matches.
Cowell made 18 appearances, 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 MLS 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.
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.
The 2021 MLS season will begin on April 3.
“I’m hoping to be a much bigger part of the squad this year,” Cowell said.
Cowell didn’t make any appearances in league play as a rookie.
He 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 started playing soccer at the age of four under his grandfather Ed’s tutelage.
He spent two seasons in the CYSO recreational league.
“I saw him play,” Toste said. “I could tell he was different at that age compared to other kids. He was fast, athletic and aggressive. He was good. I wish we would have had him in our league longer.”
Cowell played 71/2 years of competitive soccer, including two with the Ceres Earthquakes FC, three with the Modesto Ajax, and most recently, 21/2 with the Ballistic United Academy of Pleasanton.
Cowell’s journey to the professional ranks had some bumps in the road.
He was slowed by Osgood-Schlatter’s disease, a knee ailment, when he was a kid.
“He had growing pains for two years,” said Debin Cowell, Cade’s father. “He had to take time off. We saw specialists. Nothing worked until he stopped growing.”
Cowell was sidelined for a month and a half after suffering a stress fracture in his back while playing flag football in the eighth grade at Cesar Chavez Jr High.
He also didn’t receive invites to a pair of U.S. Youth National Team training camps.
Cowell was planning to attend Central Catholic High School in Modesto prior to joining the San Jose Earthquakes in-house youth development program in 2018.
“We had already filled out the paperwork and paid the fees,” Debin said. “He was enrolled. God had other plans for him.”
Cowell 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.
He tallied a goal while making his United States 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.
A five-star prospect, Cowell climbed to No. 1 in Top Drawer Soccer’s national player rankings for the class of 2022.