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Cowell makes history
Cade, 16, becomes youngest player in Earthquakes' history to start and score
Ceres native Cade Cowell enjoyed a memorable first start with the San Jose Earthquakes. Cowell’s goal gave the Quakes a 2-1 lead 14 minutes into the second half. - photo by San Jose Earthquakes

Cade Cowell graduated from Cesar Chavez Jr. High in June of 2018.

The 16-year-old Ceres native entered the record books this past weekend while playing professional soccer for the San Jose Earthquakes.

Cowell became the youngest player to start and score in Earthquakes’ history during the Major League Soccer club’s 3-2 loss to the host Los Angeles Galaxy on Saturday at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson.

He also became the eighth-youngest goalscorer in MLS history.

“No better feeling to have my first start,” the 5-foot-11 166-pound winger/forward said. “I was really excited and on top of that, to have a goal and put my team in the lead, it was a great feeling.”

Cowell gave San Jose a 2-1 lead in the 59th minute of the California Classico. 

He fired an 18-yard shot past Los Angeles goalie David Bingham and into the bottom right corner of the goal.

“I got the ball on the left side and I cut it onto my right, took one touch and then I curled it around the keeper,” Cowell said. “And then it happened to go in, so it was a nice feeling.”

Cowell also made several key plays while dropping back on defense.

He played a total of 67 minutes.

San Jose competed with a new-look lineup.

When asked why he started Cowell and rookie defender Tanner Beason for the first time, Earthquakes’ head coach Matias Almeyda said: “Based off what I saw in training, I thought it was time to use the youngsters, especially in these types of games which will develop them as good professionals. With the remaining time in the season, I’m going to try things out. There’s a situation with contracts ending. Thinking about next year, I want things to be very clear when I decide who I can count on and who I will stop counting on. And these two young players, who have been training well, who have been playing well, I thought it was time to give them playing time to start developing them for the future.”

“At training, he (Almeyda) was discussing starting lineups to prepare for the game, and we were going over set pieces,” Cowell added. “I was in the starting lineup and he was just telling me to be confident and play calmly and that I have nothing to prove out there.”

The 2020 MLS regular season was supposed to kick off on Aug. 26.

The Earthquakes-Portland Timbers match and four other games were postponed as players from those teams decided not to play to protest the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Cowell visited his family, including parents Debin and Amber, and siblings Chance and Cylee, in Ceres.

“He came home and slept here,” father Debin said. 

Cowell has appeared in three matches this season.

He spent close to six weeks in Florida when he played for the Earthquakes at the MLS is Back Tournament, staged July 8 to Aug. 11 in Orlando.

He contributed off the bench in two of five matches as San Jose compiled a 3-1-1 record on its way to a top-eight finish at the 24-team tournament.

The Earthquakes lost 4-1 to Minnesota United FC in the quarterfinals on Aug. 1 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

Cowell brought some much-needed energy to the field during San Jose’s 5-2 triumph over Real Salt Lake in the Round of 16 Knockout Stage on July 27.

The Earthquakes were clinging to a 3-2 lead when Cowell entered the match with less than 10 minutes to play. His pressure from the left side of the pitch led to San Jose’s fourth goal, which was scored by Chris Wondolowski in the 86th minute.

Cowell and the Earthquakes placed first in Group B of the MLS is Back Tournament.

San Jose collected two wins and one draw.

The Earthquakes shut out Chicago Fire FC 2-0 on July 19 and stormed back for a 4-3 win against Vancouver Whitecaps FC on July 15.

Cowell made his second MLS appearance when he entered the match as substitute late in the second half during the Earthquakes’ 0-0 tie versus 2019 league champion Seattle Sounders FC on July 10. 

The MLS is Back Tournament marked the restart of the MLS season, which was postponed for four months due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Cowell made his MLS debut on March 8.

At 16 years and 150 days old, Cade became the youngest player in club history—fifth youngest in league history—to make an appearance in a league game.

Cowell contributed at forward in the second half of the Earthquakes’ 5-2 home loss to Minnesota United FC.

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.

“His life revolves around soccer and getting better,” Debin Cowell said.