Chris Wondolowski is "in awe" of San Jose Earthquakes teenager Cade Cowell

Cade Cowell - San Jose Earthquakes - jogging

It might be an understatement to say that Chris Wondolowski holds Cade Cowell, his teenaged San Jose Earthquakes teammate, in high regard.

Addressing reporters earlier this week as preseason reaches another gear, the MLS all-time goals king showered praise on the 17-year-old forward. Wondolowski, 38, is more than twice as old as the homegrown attacker.

“I think the world of this kid,” Wondolowski said. “I still get to call him a kid, that’s something kind of mind-boggling as well, but you just see the work that he’s putting in. I’ve gotten to train [with him] just a couple times, that's because I could barely keep up with him. I definitely pride myself on my work ethic, but the amount of work that he put in this offseason, I’m extremely proud of him."

Wondolowski added that he feels Cowell will draw more attention during the 2021 campaign. He was part of the United States U-23 national team’s January camp, and last October was reportedly the subject of FC Barcelona's watchful eye.

It’s now Cowell’s third year as a pro, and he’ll look to improve upon posting one goal and one assist in 17 games (four starts) a season ago. The youngster has just under 500 MLS minutes to his name, though his physical profile and technical gifts both turn heads.

What most impresses Wondolowski is how Cowell handles himself off the field. Talent aside, intangibles can often make or break an up-and-coming player.

“He's well-spoken, thought out, caring and that's how he handles himself off the field as well,” Wondolowski said. “I think he carries himself in the locker room like that, so I want him to succeed. It's fun to see people like that thrive and I think that he will. 

“I'm literally in awe each day at just the specimen he is and just pure jealousy of the attributes he has. But his work ethic is what's going to take him to that next level and getting him to that next level.”