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Weekly Kickback: Week of November 18

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at San Jose Earthquakes Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

The San Jose Earthquakes keep making moves this offseason. They have signed a vital piece of this season’s revival, Judson, to a multi-year contract and signed a couple of teenagers to get them ready for the future. Matias Almeyda made it clear that he intends to honor the length of his contract, and he wants to be sure that his legacy and style are firmly planted in Northern California.

Yueill Starts for USMNT

Gregg Berhalter continues to try to figure out which strategy and lineup will elevate the US Men’s National Team, and a couple of Quakes players are on his radar. At the start of this year, it looked like Nick Lima was in contention to be the regular right-back for the red, white, and blue, but lately, the call-ups are still coming, but minutes on the pitch are lacking.

Another young Quake, Jackson Yueill, is now getting his chance to prove he belongs on the senior roster. Last Friday, in his fifth appearance, Yueill played all 90 minutes in a must-win match for the US. He had a solid performance in defensive midfield in the 4-1 win. While Tyler Adams is who Berhalter might call in more significant games, Yuiell is showing to be a solid backup. With another season under Matias Almeyda Yueill should continue to make strides to be a regular on the national team.

Quakes acquire SuperDraft Selection from Inter Miami FC

The Quakes offseason moves continued last week when it was announced that they had received the first pick in the second round of the 2020 MLS SuperDraft (No. 27 overall) from Inter Miami CF. In exchange, the Quakes gave up the Homegrown Rights to goalkeeper Drake Callender. They can also receive up to 150k in General Allocation Money (GAM) should Callender meet specific performance-based metrics.

The move was somewhat expected after the Quakes announced that they had signed 14-year-old Emmanuel Ochoa to a homegrown contract. What would a team do with more than five keepers on the roster?

Anything for Salinas

The Quakes youngest-ever signing, Emmanuel Ochoa, is from my hometown of Salinas, a city on the Central Coast of California about one hour south of Avaya Stadium. For years I have wondered why a soccer hotbed like Salinas was largely ignored by not only the Quakes but the US national team.

Why do I think Salinas is a hotbed of American soccer? Let’s take a look at the numbers.

Back in the 90’s Salinas was home to a semi-pro soccer team called the California/Monterey Bay Jaguars that was one of the more successful teams of the USISL. You may not be familiar with that league’s initialism, but it was what the USL is to MLS today. They were division three champions in 1996 and qualified for that year’s US Open Cup. The Jaguars boasted players like Qaukes legend Ramiro Corrales, Paul Bravo, and Mark Semioli.

Recently Salinas was home to former Seatle Sounders forward David Estrada, USL journeyman Enrique Montaño, Danny Pulido from Queretaro FC, and Jerry Ayon from Monarcas Morelia.

Several of those players earned their stripes at Alisal High School on the east side of Salinas. Alisal has been lead by head coach Mark Cisneros for almost a decade now and is a soccer powerhouse not only in California but also on the national level, where they are consistently ranked in the top 20 soccer programs across the country.

The city is also home to a traveling team, El Camino Real FC, that in recent years has sent many of their teams to national level tournaments. They are also the team that Emmanuel Ochoa played for before moving on to the more connected Santa Cruz Breakers.

Recently it was announced that semi-pro soccer would be returning to Salinas with the addition of Monterey County SC to the United Premier Soccer League.