Special to The Enterprise
All Adam Jahn wanted was a chance to prove that he can play soccer at the professional level.
The Stanford product and Davis native is finally getting that chance and, best of all, he gets to do it close to home.
On Tuesday, the San Jose Earthquakes used their first round pick (15th overall) in the 2013 MLS supplemental draft to select Jahn.
“(Getting drafted) was a great feeling,” said Jahn, 22, a graduate of Jesuit High School in Carmichael. “The best part about it is that the team is local so I get to stay close to my friends and family.”
The supplemental draft is often overshadowed by the MLS SuperDraft, a related event that serves as the first two rounds of the draft. The supplemental draft serves as the last three rounds, making Jahn the 53rd player taken this year. The second portion of the draft isn’t even televised; it takes place over a conference call.
Jahn, who was battling a lousy Internet browser at the time, didn’t even know that he was picked until about 15 minutes after the fact.
“The first time I heard (that I got drafted), my friend on the Stanford team texted me,” says Jahn. “I got a text message saying ‘congrats’ and then I went on Twitter and saw the news. An hour later the Earthquakes called me to confirm.”
Unlike most other professional sports, most MLS draftees head into preseason training without a contract, so until he signs one, Jahn will essentially be trying out for San Jose. And as a forward, he faces an uphill battle.
The high-octane Earthquakes scored 72 goals in the regular season last year, 13 more than the next closest team, the Los Angeles Galaxy.
San Jose’s three starting forwards, known to Bay Area sports fans as the Bash Brothers for their rough and tumble style of play, combined to score 50 of those goals, including a record-tying 27 by 2012 MLS MVP Chris Wondolowski.
Still, the trio serves as an inspiration to Jahn as they all came to the Earthquakes from similar situations.
Steven Lenhart (6-foot-1, 190 pounds) was a blond afro-toting, surf-loving, afterthought at NAIA Azuza Pacific.
Chris Wondolowski (6-0, 165 pounds) was an unheralded supplemental draft pick out of Chico State, who didn’t break out until he was 27-years-old.
Alan Gordon (6-3, 190 pounds) is a five-team journeyman who was immortalized in Grant Wahl’s 2009 book “The Beckham Experiment” when he introduced himself to then-teammate David Beckham and then asked, “And you are?” Like Jahn, Gordon was the 53rd overall player taken in an MLS draft.
“It’s very encouraging that there are a few cases similar to mine, except for the players picked in the first round of the SuperDraft, everyone else is on an even scale going into preseason,” Jahn said. “(My) ultimate goal going forward was just getting into preseason with a team.”
Jahn’s fellow local soccer standouts are convinced that if the former Davis Legacy player gets an extended run with an MLS team, he will stick around.
“He’s very versatile. He can play attacking roles. He can play in the back. He’s level-headed and very humble. He has a good attitude and that’s what it takes to succeed at this level,” said Jalil Anibaba, a former Davis High star who is now a third-year defender for the Chicago Fire. “He’s a testament to Davis soccer and how far it has come.”
Anibaba’s high school coach Ashley Yudin, a longtime Blue Devil mentor who retired this fall, agreed.
“(Jahn) brings hard work and takes the definition of hard work to a new level,” said Yudin, who coached Jahn in the Davis Legacy program. “He worked extraordinarily hard on his game, his skills. For me he was a center midfielder, so he was always the person who had the ball at his feet, he was basically a point guard. You don’t get too many situations where you get that size of a player with that much skill.”
Unfortunately for Yudin, the 6-3, 185-pound Jahn chose to attend Jesuit over DHS, forcing Yudin to specifically prepare for him in several exciting Sac-Joaquin Section regular season and playoff matches.
“We tried to play him as straight up as we could, except when he got into our final third we always had someone designated to pick him up,” Yudin said. “He was, for the most part, taller than anyone that we had — you could never prepare for him on corner kicks or set plays. All you could really hope for was that they would put him to take the set plays, but that never happened.”
After getting selected on Tuesday, Jahn reported to the Earthquakes preseason camp in San Jose on Wednesday, where he took part in his first professional training session.
“I thought I adapted to the speed of play,” said the two-time California Boys Soccer Player of the Year. “It was actually really fun, but there’s definitely a steep learning curve.”
Jahn and the Earthquakes will continue to train in San Jose until Monday, before the team departs for a preseason tour.
Their first stop is Tucson, Ariz., where the ‘Quakes will train and compete in their first two preseason games — against the New England Revolution on Tuesday and the Houston Dynamo on Saturday.
Jahn should see ample playing time to start on this tour as two of the three Bash Brothers are recovering from injuries while the third (Wondolowski) is in camp with the U.S. national team.
Regardless of whether or not Jahn makes the team, the former U18 international player has unfinished business at Stanford when he gets back.
“My degree is kind of on hold,” said Jahn, a management science and engineering major. “I’m not going to be able to finish this year, but I’m working to knock off classes as quickly as possible to finish.
“My dad was pretty adamant that I finish. He’s a little apprehensive but at the same time he knows that I’m pursuing my dream. He’s just making sure that I’m putting together a concrete plan to finish my degree.”
Either way, Jahn plans on living in Stanford’s student housing until June so he can be close to the few classes he’s taking as well as the Earthquakes.
And if he does make the team? The Bash Brother trio might become a quartet.