Orange County SC announced on Monday they have signed Francis Jacobs to a professional contract. He becomes the youngest-ever male professional signing in American soccer history, at 14 years, 4 months and 29 days.
Jacobs joins after playing club soccer for Irvine Strikers and receiving call-ups to the U.S. U-14 Boys National Team. The Laguna Beach native has been training with Orange County SC’s first team for several months and has reportedly already drawn interest from European clubs prior to his signing.
“Francis is a special Orange County talent and has shown a maturity on the field way beyond his years,” said president of soccer operations & General Manager Oliver Wyss in a team statement. “He is the perfect model of player to develop in our pathway to professional program that we have established here in Orange County. The entire organization is committed to providing him with guidance, training and support as he begins the first step in what we believe will be a long professional soccer career. Our training environment will allow him to learn every day from our experienced technical staff and play alongside top pro players, some of which have played on the highest international level in Mexico and Europe. Francis has a bright future ahead and we are proud to have him and his family as part of Orange County SC.”
“I am very excited for Francis, who is a young and gifted local talent, to join our team,” said head coach Braeden Cloutier. “I’ve been really impressed with his poise and ability on the ball that he’s shown us these past few months. This is a great opportunity for Francis, and also an exciting challenge for the entire Orange County SC technical staff to do everything possible to help him reach his fullest potential.”
Jacobs is expected to be eligible to play as soon as Saturday against Las Vegas Lights FC.
“It is really exciting to be playing for Orange County SC,” said Jacobs. “I would like to thank Mr. Keston, Oliver & Braeden for giving me this special opportunity. I want to make everybody who has helped me get here proud and I am looking forward to the future.”
While players are being signed younger and younger these days in the U.S., it remains quite rare for a player to turn pro at 14. The most famous example is that of Freddy Adu, who began his career with D.C. United in 2004. More recently, the Chicago Fire signed goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina this offseason at 14. Closer to home, Orange County SC signed goalkeeper Aaron Cervantes when he was 15 — this season, at 17, he’s emerged to become the starter for Cloutier’s side.
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