SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — The San Jose Earthquakes professional soccer team announced Monday they have signed 14-year-old goalkeeper Emmanuel ‘Emi’ Ochoa to a homegrown player contract, making him the second youngest player to ever ink a deal with a Major League Soccer team.
Only current soccer star Freddy Adu was younger than Ochoa when he signed his deal also as a 14-year-old with DC United in 2004.
Ochoa, who lives with his family in Salinas, has been in the Quakes Academy developmental program and is one of five teens San Jose has locked into a professional contract. The others are: Jacob Akanyirige (17), Gilbert Fuentes (17), Casey Walls (16) and Cade Cowell (16).
“The work we have done to prepare ourselves for the future at the goalkeeping position gave us an opportunity to offer a contract to Emi, even at his young age,” said Earthquakes general manager Jesse Fioranelli. “We have established players we are going to lean on for 2020 and the years to come, which will allow Emi to develop at his own pace with achievable goals year over year, including ones from an academic and life perspective.”
“Emi plays with a technical ability and confidence well beyond his age and is one of the top prospects in the youth national team system. He has already worked extensively with our goalkeeper coach Carlos Roa and we have put a personalized development plan in place to ensure the best learning environment for him moving forward.”
Ochoa, who is 6-foot-2, 150 pounds, began his youth career at his hometown club El Camino FC before joining the Santa Cruz Breakers Academy and later the Quakes Academy. He currently competes for San Jose’s U-15 squad and has previously represented the U.S. National Team at the U-14 and U-15 levels.
The native of Salinas is currently rated by Top Drawer Soccer as the nation’s No. 1 goalkeeper for the Class of 2023. He is the first teenage goalkeeper to sign a professional contract with the Earthquakes.