The Earthquakes Academy has begun to take some flak in circles for their inability to produce high level professional prospects at the rate in which neighbors De Anza Force are. The Earthquakes are one of few MLS sides who has not signed a homegrown player. That drought could be over soon as the Earthquakes are stacked at multiple levels for the 2013-2014 Academy season.
Many pundits thought the front-runner for the Quakes first homegrown contract was usynt midfielder Angel Heredia (’96), who spent time with the Quakes Academy before heading to US Residency. Heredia, however, surprised some by switching allegiances to play with rivals De Anza Force for the 2013-2014 USSDA season. This is a huge blow to the U18s as Heredia would likely have inherited the captaincy and filled a major void left in the midfield.
The U18 squad finished a disappointing 4th in the Northwest division last year, however the Quakes welcome back their more influential players this season. Leading goal scorers Mexican-American Eli Padilla (’95) is back as is 2014 Stanford commit Alex Liua (’95) who tallied 26 goals between the two of them. Padilla an Liua will be accompanied by usynt Dalton Pando (’96). Also coming back are core U18 members Roberto Mendoza, Bryson Clark and Joshua Morton. Goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski (’97) and midfielder Amir Bashti (’97) are both spent time this summer with the US U17 team. Both Marcinkowski and Bashti are listed with the 2013-2014 U16 Quakes team but saw extended minutes with the U18 Quakes last season and will likely do the same this year. Other notable U16 promoted players include U16 defenders Josh Totte, Spencer Saing and striker Cylus Sandoval, who trained with Cruz Azul, Chivas de Guadelajara, Santos, Monterrey, Tijuana, Morelia and Pachuca in 2012 following a successful Alianza de futbol camp. Scottish-American Darren Sinclair is another dangerous player going forward.
The key man for the U18 Quakes will be usynt striker Dalton Pando (’96). Pando fits right into the Earthquake line-up after having spent time with the US Residency, Real Salt Lake and San Juan SC. He’s also trained with AS Fiorentina and Club America. He’s a hot prospect and could be in line for that coveted initial Quakes homegrown deal. The 5’8” striker committed to UCSB in the spring but could go pro before ever stepping foot on campus.
The U16s will be led by Marcinkowski and Bashti if left in that age division. The Quakes U16 also return talented striker Philip Hausen (’97), midfielders Theo Huxham (’98) and Jonathan Partida (’97) defenders Nils Langstrom (’98) and Shane Penner. Look for big things from ex-De Anza Force attacker Rhys Pak (’98). Pak was with the De Anza U16s for the last two seasons. If Marcinkowksi plays with the U18s the Quakes have a more than capable back up in French-American Remi Prieur (’97). Prieur and Marcinkowski have been splitting time in the net over the last couple seasons. The Quakes also welcome in Jazper Phillips (’98) the Cal Odyssey net-minder got minutes with the Odyssey U18s last year as well.
One name immediately jumps of the roster while assessing the U13/U14 Earthquake roster, that is ’99 usynt defender Edwin Lara. Lara spent much of last season with the Pachuca Academy after having rejected the advances from a number other Mexican Academies. Lara starred in US Soccer’s id2 trip to Spain and is one of three ’99 born players who went down to Mexico with the US U15 BNT. Lara developed at near by Tecos Hayward SC, yet if he stays connected to San Jose is one of the more valuable players in their Academy system. I personally see Lara playing in Mexico next year, and if not Mexico he’s a lock for a US Residency invite, which he would likely accept. A few other names to watch on the U14 side are defender Jean-Julien Nuphaus (’00) and midfielder Trent Hudson (’99).
Academy Star: ’96 Dalton Pando
Academy Talisman: ’97 JT Marcinkowski
Academy Prospect: ’99 Edwin Lara