Jacobs during his USL Championship debut / Photo courtesy Orange County SC
Around the USL Championship and League One last week, Academy products and teenage players put in some excellent performances. These stars-in-the-making show the benefits of providing young players with opportunities at the First Team level, a method that more and more USL clubs are buying into in advance of the USL Academy League beginning in spring 2021. Catch up with all of last week’s developments in our look around the leagues.
U.S. Youth International Francis Jacobs, who became the youngest male professional athlete in American history when he signed with OCSC as a 14-year-old last year, made his first professional appearance as a late substitute in a win over Las Vegas Lights FC.
Jacobs was one of the top players at the first USL Academy Western Conference Regional Event last October.
After seeing teammates and fellow SAFC Pro Academy alumni Jose Gallegos, Leo Torres and Fabrizio Bernal each earn minutes with San Antonio FC’s Senior Team, it was Josh Ramsey’s turn on Saturday night.
The 18-year-old, who is signed to a USL Academy contract, came on as a substitute in a 2-0 win aaginst OKC Energy FC at Toyota Field. As a product of Dallas youth club Solar SC, he shows the continuing emphasis SAFC places on finding players from the variety of clubs that make up its youth network.
17-year-old left back Jonathan Gomez started and played 67 minutes in Louisville City FC’s 4-1 win over Memphis 901 FC on Saturday night.
Gomez spent the 2019 season playing on a USL Academy contract with League One title-winners North Texas SC after coming through the FC Dallas youth system.
Ethan Bryant became the youngest goalscorer in San Antonio FC's history when he scored on September 29, 2018, just a month after his 17th birthday.
After spending the 2019 campaign with Belgian professional side K.S.V. Roeselare, SAFC announced last Friday that the club had re-acquired Bryant for the remainder of the 2020 season.
Bryant's first stint with San Antonio was on a USL Academy contract, but he is now a full professional.
Teenage players accounted for eight goals across the USL Championship last Wednesday night.
Beto Avila netted for Austin Bold FC, Jose Gallegos scored for San Antonio FC, New York City FC loanee Justin Haak found the net for Hartford Athletic, Jake LaCava notched a goal for New York Red Bulls II and four teenagers scored for Philadelphia Union II in the club’s 4-0 victory against Loudoun United FC.
United States U20 National Team forward Justin Rennicks scored his first league goal as a professional in Saturday’s League One clash between New England Revolution II and Union Omaha, in which Revs II earned an impressive 2-0 away victory.