Over the last decade and a half, or near there, Major League Soccer sides have poured millions upon millions of dollars into their Academy programs to groom the future stars of the sport. From Diego Fagundez to Scott Caldwell here in New England to the influx of talent that FC Dallas signs on an almost weekly basis — seriously, my inbox is flooded with Burn signings — MLS is investing in their youth and are hoping to reap the rewards of their training.
Of course, quite possibly the biggest name to come out of the Academies is Alphonso Davies, the now-20-year-old wunderkind who came up through the Vancouver Whitecaps system and is now a regular in the Bayern Munich first team. Bayern bought Davies’ services for a then-US record $13.5 million, and he has certainly produced.
One of the young stars the US soccer media gushed over in 2020? That would be Caden Clark, the 17-year-old midfielder from the Red Bulls. He captured the glitz and flash bulbs for a neat wonder strike against Atlanta United last year, and already has two goals in 2021. He’s already on a pre-contract with Red Bull Leipzig in Austria, where he would join Tyler Adams, another midfielder getting serious minutes for the US national team.
But who is it that may surpass Clark for the title of King of the Kids, a title I basically just made up? That would be Cade Cowell, another 17-year-old, nearly five months younger than Clark, who currently plays for San Jose.
Suffice it to say, Cowell has taken the West Coast of MLS by storm. Through the ‘Quakes first three matches of 2021, Cowell has scored twice, but his scoring should be the least of teams’ worries when it comes to the 5-foot-10 midfielder.
It’s his distribution that needs watching: so far, he has three assists in his young career, including two in San Jose’s 4-1 win over DC United Saturday night. According to the San Jose Mercury News, Cowell is the youngest player in MLS to register a goal and an assist in consecutive matches.
“The most difficult thing in soccer is to maintain that level of performance,” San Jose head coach Matias Almeyda said Saturday night.
So far, Cowell has 22 successful passes out of 32 per MLSSoccer.com, with a great deal of his passes — 37.5 percent — going to his right. And while his passing accuracy in San Jose’s own half are at about 54 percent, Cowell is certainly damn deadly in the opponent’s half, where he’s connecting at a 74 percent rate.
He’s also made five key passes in helping the Earthquakes to a 2-1-0 (win-loss-draw) record and a goal difference of +4 to sit second in the Western Conference following Seattle’s win over LA Galaxy Sunday. Not bad for a side that has gone with youth in its re-build, but Cowell seems to have the right stuff to keep San Jose going.
Can he keep his hot streak going? That remains to be seen. The ‘Quakes are at Real Salt Lake this Friday, and RSL has shown that it, too, can score with the best of them. RSL are now third at 2-0-0, with Damir Kreilach leading that club with a goal and two assists over the weekend.
Let’s whip it around, shall we?
Former Revolution midfielder Kelyn Rowe got his first start as a Sounder in Seattle’s 3-0 win over LA Galaxy Sunday night, a match which saw Raul Ruidiaz score twice. Seattle leads the Western Conference at 2-0-1 with a +7 goal difference, and are unbeaten in its last five against the Galaxy.
Rowe noted post-match the job the Sounders did on Javier Hernández on Sunday.
“It’s difficult to break us down,” Rowe said, per the Seattle Times. “That’s what we want to do. If you’re a lone forward — they switched to two forwards in the second half — it’s hard to get anywhere near (the goal). You saw a little bit of frustration from Chicharito. We, defensively, did a good job.”
Seattle has been a quality defensive side under Brian Schmetzer, and Rowe is in the right place, I think. And besides, one goal allowed so far in 2021. That’s the best in MLS, outside of Columbus, which has battled to two scoreless draws in its two matches so far.
Red Bulls knocked off Chicago, 2-nil, in Harrison Saturday before RSL dismantled Sporting Kansas City, 3-1.
Saturday also saw Montreal and Columbus battle to a scoreless draw, while Houston and LAFC went 1-1. Orlando City put up a three-spot in a 3-nil win over FC Cincinnati, which has only scored twice and currently sports a goal difference of -8. New York City FC knocked off Philadelphia, 2-nil, after the Union went down to 10 men after Jose Martinez — who will miss Philly’s CONCACAF Champions League tilt against Atlanta United Tuesday following yellow card accumulation in that competition — was shown a straight red for violent conduct in the 16th minute Saturday… yikes. He’ll also miss the Union’s trip to Chicago on Saturday afternoon; I suspect DisCo will have something else to say about that.
Dallas came up with a 4-1 win over Portland, Austin FC beat Minnesota United 1-0 through Fagundez’s second goal as a member of the Verde; also good to see Austin’s fans take to DF14 the way we did here in New England. I haven’t seen Diego this happy in a while. Nashville and Miami also battled to a scoreless draw (I really can’t wait to see this film), and Colorado won, 1-0, on the road to Vancouver Sunday night through Diego Rubio’s 26th minute goal.
Revolution, top of the East, second in the Supporter’s Shield race. It’s only Week Three of a long season, but it’s great to see… are there things that can be worked on? Absolutely. No team is complete after three weeks. Planning to re-watch Saturday’s match tomorrow morning, with him on Nashville slated for Wednesday… Carles Gil’s first touch is better than your first touch, guaranteed… Minnesota United needs help and direction.