By Dennis Miller
To say things have moved quickly for former Ballistic United Soccer Club player and current member of the San Jose Earthquakes Cade Cowell would be a huge understatement.
It seems like just yesterday when Cowell led the nation in goals scored with 34 while a member of 2017-18 BUSC under-15 team in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy league.
The next year he was a member of the Earthquakes Academy U-17 team and saw action for the U-19 team, taking on players up to three years older, all the while earning the No. 2 ranking in the nation for the Class of 2022.
Next, he became the Earthquakes youngest Homegrown Player signee at the age of 15 when he dotted his name on a contract on Jan. 23, 2019.
Now at the ripe old age of 16, Cowell got time on the field during the MLS is Back Tournament at Walt Disney World in Orlando. He was hailed as “The Kid” by the announcers while helping the Earthquakes to a 3-1-1 record in the tournament.
It has already been a ride for “The Kid,” from Ceres.
“It’s been crazy,” said Cowell. “I’ve gone from playing with the Ballistic under-15 team to playing with Wondo (Earthquakes star Chris Wondolowski). It’s been really cool – it’s something I will always remember.”
Wondolowski is another local player, growing up in Danville before playing his college ball for Chico State. One of the older players in the MLS, Wondo has been the perfect mentor for Cowell.
“Wondo has been the best,” Cowell explained. “He’s always talking to me and helping me.”
It would be an adjustment for a player stepping from college soccer into the MLS but make it for a young player stepping up from youth soccer and it’s almost unfathomable.
And of course, there has been a learning curve for Cowell, but thanks to players like Wondo he is getting there.
“There are two things,” said Cowell when asked what the biggest adjustments have been. “The speed of play is amazing for one. When I was in the Academy play, I could dribble all day. (In MLS play) you have to move the ball. There’s not as much time to dribble.”
As if stepping on to the MLS field wasn’t a big enough moment, that it came during the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing all the teams in the league into a “bubble” situation made it something way different.
All the MLS teams were sequestered in hotels around Disney World, going from the hotel to the fields and back. That was their existence.
“It was very weird,” said Cowell. “(The Quakes and the MLS) did a very good job of taking care of us. We had the whole first floor and we had a game room where we could go, but it got tiring. You try not think about it – you just try to get better every day.”
One interesting aspect of the games was the piped in crowd noise during the games on TV. It tried to give a sense of normalcy to the TV viewers, but somewhat shockingly, it was something the players could not hear.
“We didn’t hear a thing,” said Cowell of the manufactured crowd noise. “That was something they added for TV. It was weird playing a game, then seeing it on TV, hearing the crowd noise and seeing all the advertisements around the field.”
Having seen playing time for both the United States Under-16 and Under-17 National teams the future certainly seems bright for Cowell. And as he continues to climb up the professional ranks, Cowell will always remember his Ballistic roots.
“My Ballistic days were amazing,” said Cowell, who commuted to Pleasanton from Ceres for three years. “That under-15 team was so fun – it’s a time I will always remember.”