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Cowell, Quakes battle KC in MLS Playoffs
Cade Cowell logged playing
Cade Cowell logged playing time in 18 games during his second season with the San Jose Earthquakes. The 17-year-old Ceres native and the Quakes lost 3-0 on penalty kicks to Sporting KC in the first round of the MLS Cup Playoffs on Sunday.

Cade Cowell became the youngest player in San Jose Earthquakes’ history to make a postseason appearance this past weekend in Kansas.

The 17-year-old Ceres native and eighth-seeded Earthquakes fell short in their bid to knock off top-seeded Sporting KC in Round One of the Major League Soccer Cup Playoffs.

San Jose lost 3-0 in a penalty-kick shootout to Kansas City after the two teams battled to a 3-3 tie through regulation and extra time on Sunday at Children’s Mercy Park.

Cowell, a 5-foot-11 166-pound winger/forward, couldn’t be reached for comment due to a busy schedule. 

He’s been meeting via Zoom with coaches from the under-20 men’s national team.

“He was a pro a year ago but didn’t travel (with the first team),” father Debin Cowell said. “It was a whole nother experience this season. He rostered every game. This (playoff appearance) was the next step.”

Cowell contributed off the bench as a substitute.

He replaced Shea Salinas late in the second half (87th minute).

The Western Conference playoff game was broadcast at 1 p.m. on FS1.

“I was excited for Cade because I know he can make a difference,” said Salinas, San Jose’s all-time assists leader.

Cowell had two scoring chances against Sporting KC, including one during extra time.

He threatened from close-range in the 113th minute. 

Cowell had his left-footed shot from the right side saved by Kansas City goalkeeper Tim Melia.

“I’ve been watching Cade play soccer since he could walk,” Debin Cowell said. “I could tell he was a little hesitant and his brain was moving a million miles per hour. He’s bummed. He wishes he could have capitalized on the opportunities he had.”

The Earthquakes compiled an 8-10-6 overall record this season.

Sporting KC improved to 13-6-3 and will face fourth-seeded Minnesota United FC in the conference semifinals the first week of December. 

“It was a great game,” Debin Cowell said. “For the most part, they (the Earthquakes) played well. It didn’t bounce their way. It’s heartbreaking. They had a good year. Just to be in the playoffs from where they started was a huge deal.”

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.

Cowell logged playing time in 18 games during his second season with the Earthquakes.

He started four times.

Cowell collected one goal and one assist.

He attempted 16 shots.

Cowell earned the trust of his coaches and teammates.

 “For him to do what he did, we didn’t expect that,” Debin Cowell said. “We thought he was going to play for (United Soccer League affiliate) Reno. He played well this year.”

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 goal scorer in league history.

He made his MLS debut against Minnesota United FC on March 7.

He didn’t make any appearances in league play as a rookie.

Cowell graduated from Cesar Chavez Jr. High in 2018.

Cowell could vie for a starting spot with the Earthquakes in 2021.

“His minutes will go up,” Debin Cowell said. “He’ll be more involved in the offense. I think his future is really bright. He’s got to continue to make strides.”