This week saw a new record being set with the youngest male player in the history of professional soccer to sign a contract to play professionally. The USL Championship club, Orange County SC signed with Francis Jacobs of Laguna Beach when he was only 14 years, four months and 29 days old. This is putting Freddy Adu now in second place. In 2003, Adu set the record when he signed to play professionally for MLS at DC United.
Jacobs Is Showing Potential of Greatness
General Manager and President of Soccer Operations at Orange County, Oliver Wyss expressed his excitement regarding his new player. He mentioned that Jacobs displays a tremendous amount of maturity for his age. His skills on the field are complemented by his willingness to learn, and his new teammates are ready to teach. Wyss confirmed that the team is prepared to guide Jacobs to greatness. He will have the privilege of practising with players with international experience in both Mexico and Europe. Even though Jacobs’s performance while playing for the Irvine Strikers, was enough reason for many clubs from all over to offer him a contract, he decided to choose one which is close to home and where he can attend the practices regularly. It is also not the first time that Orange County SC signed on young players. Aaron Cervantes was merely 15 years old when he joined Orange County. He is an inspiration to Jacobs, who are keen to follow in his footstep. Both of these players will be present in the United States U-17 National Team.
His Career Early On
Jacobs stated that he wanted to play professional soccer for as long as he can remember. The dream has always been part of his life. Except for his brilliant performance at the Irvine Strikers, he also showcased his talent as a member of the United States U-14 team as well as at the US Junior National Team camp in 2018.
Why the Rush to Sign So Soon?
This is the question on many soccer fans’ minds. Considering the changes which were made in the soccer world over the past couple of years, this is regarded as the perfect environment to develop young talent. Since Adu was signed in 2003, The Development Academy was founded in 2007. The result of this is that many smaller academies were started all over the US, which created great opportunities for young start to be groomed. It created an ecosystem within the soccer world, which is favourable towards young players.
An example of such a success story is the young Alphonso Davies which started to play at the age of 15 for the Vancouver Whitecaps and are currently signed at Bayern Munich. Chicago Fire is another club which signed the 14-year old Gabriel Slonina as goalkeeper earlier this year. On the game scheduled for the 17th of August, Jacobs will have his opportunity to make his debut against the Las Vegas FC. Whether Orange County SC will let him play and for how long, will still have to be seen.