The San Jose Earthquakes on Monday signed goalkeeper Emmanuel Ochoa, 14, to a homegrown player contract, making him the second-youngest player signed by Major League Soccer behind Freddy Adu.
Ochoa, a Mexican-American who lives in Salinas, California, was 14 years and 191 days on Monday, just a little older than Adu, who D.C. United brought in at 14 years, 168 days back in 2003.
Last week, Quakes coach Matias Almeyda signed 16-year-old defender Casey Walls also to a homegrown contract, with both on board until 2024.
Ochoa, at 6-foot-2, 148 pounds, becomes one of five players on the team under the age of 18, including Walls (16), Jacob Akanyirige (17), Gilbert Fuentes (17) and Cade Cowell (16) . No other MLS club has more than two players under the age of 18.
"He's a goalkeeper that is very agile despite his growth that he has witnessed over the last few years," Earthquakes general manager Jesse Fioranelli told the San Francisco Chronicle about Ochoa. "Whether it's with his feet or with his command or his presence, he's very confident at the age of 14.
"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 Fioranelli in a statement. "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."
Ochoa 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.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, a Mexican club had offered Ochoa a contract this year, which accelerated Almeyda's decision to sign the young player.
Almeyda coached Chivas from 2015-2018.