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Tri-Valley teen soccer star signs with San Jose Earthquakes

Akanyirige becomes youngest player to ink 'homegrown' deal with team

The San Jose Earthquakes have signed Pleasanton teenage defender Jacob Akanyirige to a "homegrown player" contract.

He became the youngest-ever signing by the Earthquakes, the third-youngest player currently in Major League Soccer and the eighth-youngest to ever sign a pro contract in league history when he inked the deal last month.

"Jacob has shown an incredible amount of potential at such a young age," Earthquakes general manager Jesse Fioranelli said in a press release after the signing Dec. 15. "We challenged him to play above his age this year and were impressed by his maturity and technical abilities. We are confident he will continue to develop with regular First Team training exposure."

Akanyirige, now 16, joined the Quakes' U-15 squad ahead of the 2016-17 academy season from the Ballistic United Soccer Club. He has been competing for the U-19s in 2017-18, despite being age-eligible for the younger U-17s.

The Pleasanton native becomes the fourth homegrown player signing in San Jose's history, and first directly from the team's academy -- after midfielder Tommy Thompson ahead of the 2014 season, defender Nick Lima ahead of the 2017 season and goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski last month. Danville native Chris Wondolowski is a star forward for the Quakes.

Akanyirige was also named one of 18 United States Youth National Team players to watch in 2018 by TopDrawerSoccer. He was recently among 153 players called to the youth national team summit in Lakewood Ranch, Fla., marking his first-ever international call-up.

Here's what TDS had to say about him:

"Akanyirige went from off-the-radar to homegrown signing to U.S. U18 Men's National Team call-up in a period of a month. The defender has been a key player for the Earthquakes U18/19 team during the Development Academy season. If he can continue to impress, he could be in for a big year in 2018."

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