The San Jose Earthquakes will take on the USL League Two’s San Francisco Glens in a friendly this Saturday at Skyline College. Kickoff is 5 p.m. and admission is free.
While the Quakes’ senior team heads to Texas for an MLS regular season clash with FC Dallas, a mix of first-team reserves and Under-19 players will take the trip north to San Bruno for the exhibition game against the Glens, who feature several former Quakes Academy stars as well.
“I’m really excited about Saturday,” said Quakes U-19 coach Eder Quintanilla, who will lead San Jose’s contingent. “It’s a great opportunity to continue preparing for the end of the season.”
The San Jose U-19s are currently third in the conference and in playoff position in their league. Among their top prospects are attacking midfielder Jerry Ayon and holding/linking midfielder Cameron Cilley, the latter of whom has signed with Stanford.
“Jerry is a very dynamic player. He’s quick and fast with good technique, and he reads the game very well,” Quintanilla said. “He’s very dangerous on the dribble, very dangerous in combination.
“Cameron is a very powerful box-to-box midfielder. He can destroy but can also create. He covers a lot of ground and is a great leader.”
The game is part of the Quakes’ official Partnership in Development with the Glens, who became the first club in San Francisco to strike such a agreement last December. Saturday’s friendly will also serve as the preseason finale for the Glens, who play in the USL League Two and recently hired Quakes legendary defender Jimmy Conrad to be their technical director.
The USL2 is the top Under-23 league in America, whose alumni make up over 70 percent of all MLS SuperDraft picks. For example, Quakes and U.S. National Team star Nick Lima played two seasons in the league when it was known as the USL PDL.
“We’re obviously playing a high-quality team,” said Glens head coach Javier Ayala-Hil. “You’ve got their academy players and some of their reserves who haven’t been getting playing time. This is going to be a really good test for us heading into our opener on May 5th.”
The Glens aren’t short on rising young talent, either. Rei Dorwart, a City native who attended Washington High and recently earned a trial with Club Tijuana’s Under-20 team, has signed with San Francisco, as has San Francisco State All-American defender Aydan Bowers.
Earlier this week, the Glens added consensus SF High School Player of the Year Julio Gonzalez Ponce, who netted 44 times for Mission the past two seasons en route to the school’s first Northern California championship. Gonzalez Ponce also played club soccer for Bay City FC, now a partner club of the Glens.
They’re also unafraid to give their youth players opportunities, signing three players from their Celtic Academy who still attend San Francisco high schools—Lowell’s Xander Sagatelyan, Sacred Heart Cathedral’s Diego Grande, and Leadership’s Kevin Estrada. The teenage trio heard the news about their promotion to the first team over the phone from none other than Conrad.
Team president Mike McNeill confirmed to KNBR.com that the club would also be announcing several local stars from Cal, Stanford, and St. Mary’s—who were all nationally ranked last season—next week.
A longtime amateur adult club, the Sunset-based club now has a full pyramid from Under-5 micro soccer teams all the way up to their new first team in the USL League Two. In fact, after only their first season in USL2, the Glens had four players selected by MLS teams—two in the first round.
One of those players, Sam Junqua, was recently called up to the Houston Dynamo’s final 18 and will soon make his MLS debut. When he does, it will be a historic moment for the Glens, who have intentions of climbing the ladder into the professional ranks one day. The next level up would be USL League One, which is currently in the third division of the American soccer pyramid.
“We definitely see this is as a start in terms of where we want to go as a club,” said Glens team president Mike McNeill.
It will be a busy Saturday for the Glens, who will be holding tryouts in the morning for their competitive youth club, now the biggest one in The City with boys’ and girls’ teams in the U.S. Development Academy, National Premier Leagues, NorCal Travel League, and S.F. Youth Soccer Competitive league.
“These are really exciting times here in The City for soccer and the growth of the game,” McNeill said. “We’re doing something different here with the Glens, from the way we develop our players to uniting with other communities, like we’re doing with Bay City. We want to be a club for everyone in San Francisco to rally behind.”