Meet 16-year-old Cade Cowell, the youngest goalscorer in San Jose Earthquake history

Cade Cowell - closeup - 2020

Two months shy of his 17th birthday, Cade Cowell became the youngest player to start and score in San Jose Earthquakes history on Saturday night when he was in Matias Almeyda's starting XI against the LA Galaxy.

But just how did he get here? Glad you asked.

HOW HE TURNED PRO: Cowell signed a Homegrown Player contract as a 15-year-old in January of 2019, and spent time in 2019 between the club's USL affiliate in Reno and the academy's U18/19 side.

WHY HE WAS IN THE LINEUP: Cowell came off the bench for his MLS debut during the MLS is back tournament. With Magnus Eriksson leaving to return to Sweden following the tournament and Carlos Fierro picking up an injury in training, the opportunity to slide into a starting midfield role was there for the taking. There was also a hint of looking beyond 2020 in starting Cowell, as well as MLS debutant Tanner Beason. Head coach Matias Almeyda elaborated after the game:

“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.”

DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN?: While it was Cowell's first goal in MLS competition, it was not his first for the San Jose first team. That came as a 15-year-old back in March 2019 during a friendly with CF Monterrey of Liga MX.

WHAT HE SAID: “It felt really good tonight. No better feeling to have my first start. 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 but an unlucky result tonight.”