Cade Cowell is 17. Chris Wondolowski is 38. You do the math.
Yes, there is a substantial age gap between the San Jose Earthquakes forwards, but as training camp opened this week in earnest for the club ahead of the 2021 season, both players paid tribute to each other, showing the gulf in their ages is no impediment to mutual respect.
“I mean, Wondo is honestly super important,” Cowell told reporters Tuesday during media availability. “Like, I don’t know what we would do without him at this point. He’s been always super positive with me and I make so many mistakes, being young and just playing his position, and he’s always saying positive things to me, always coaching me and just telling me what to do.”
“The big thing from him that I learn from him and see and respect so much is how much like he goes in there, every single day. No matter what day it is he gives 110% and he’s just always on fire and just hyping us all up. He does a really good job of that, just gives you the confidence to go out there.”
For his part, Wondolowski praised Cowell’s maturity by painting a picture of what he was like as a teenager.
“I couldn’t imagine doing the interviews when I was 16, I went through a dude stage and I actually called my dad ‘Dude’ way too much that he is now officially ‘Dude’ in my phone and is now a ‘Granddude’ to my kids and so that’s where I was at 16,” Wondolowski told reporters.
But if Cowell was appreciative of the veteran’s guidance so far in his career, Wondolowski was truly effusive in his praise for the youngster.
“I think that we have some amazing young talent and you know you mentioned Cade, I think the world of this kid. I still get to call him a kid, you know, it’s kind of mind-boggling as well,” Wondolowski said with a smile, “but you just see the work that he’s putting in, and I’ve got to train with him, just a couple times. That’s because I could barely keep up with him. I definitely pride myself in my work ethic, but the amount of work that he put in this offseason, extremely proud of him and I think that it’s starting to bode well for him and I think that more eyes are going to be on him and I think that he’s ready for that.”
Cowell not only made his MLS debut in 2020, but scored his first career goal and added an assist, while playing 19 games total in the season, just over 500 minutes.
In a sense, there’s the hope that the teenager is merely scratching the surface of his potential.
Wondolowski declared himself a “huge fan” of Cowell and thinks he has the capacity to really succeed.
“I think that especially the way Cade carries himself and the work he puts in, his humble personality, his charisma, you know everything about him, I enjoy working with him,” Wondo explained. “It makes me want to try to help him in any way, shape or form. I you know I think that he’s like a sponge right now and I think that he just takes such a great approach to it. He’s well wise beyond his years and I think his parents have done an astounding job with him because he’s just very poised, he’s well-spoken, thought out, caring, and that’s how he handles himself off the field as well.
“I want him to succeed. It’s fun to see people like that thrive and I think that he will and I’m just literally in awe each day,” Wondolowski added.
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