Gilbert Fuentes - sits with first team - preseason
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Generation adidas Cup a key career bridge for San Jose's Cowell, Fuentes

FRISCO, Texas – Last week’s Generation adidas Cup should remind San Jose Earthquakes fans that the future is as bright as it is near.

As one of the few academy sides that fielded multiple first-team players in their U-17 squad, San Jose had an embarrassment of riches in forward Cade Cowell and attacking midfielder Gilbert Fuentes.

Fuentes' reign as “youngest-ever Homegrown Player signing” after putting pen to paper in January 2018 lasted just under a year. That's because Cowell took the title from his teammate when he signed his own Homegrown contract in January 2019.

With high-level games at the GA Cup, both are inching closer to a bright future.

“Individually, it just gives everyone a little more experience against competition like this and it helps build a better brand for the style of play we want and the final product that we're looking for,” Fuentes told MLSsoccer.com.

For both players, the experience was vital for the transition from regular academy action to first-team minutes. And for Fuentes, it also helped him earn a call-up to the US U-17 national team for next month's 2019 Concacaf U-17 Championship.

For Cowell, the next step in his career is clear.

“My goal this year is just to make an MLS debut,” Cowell said. “That's my goal. But every time I come out here, I try and work as hard as possible to get there.”

Cowell, 15, is making strides towards those aspirations after coming on as a substitute and scoring in the Earthquakes' 2-1 friendly loss to Liga MX’s Monterrey last month. Fuentes, who made his MLS debut last season, has yet to add to his one career minute in 2019.

Both saw the GA Cup as an opportunity to get game action and familiarize themselves with the next level.

“At this age, I think the biggest thing is to get minutes, regardless of where it is,” Fuentes said, “But always, whether it's with the first team or U-17s, [it's having] the same mentality and same mindset."

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