Francis Jacobs (center) is several weeks young than Freddy Adu when he signed with MLS and D.C. United in 2003. (Photo courtesy of the Orange County Soccer Club)

IRVINE, Calif. – Orange County Soccer Club Monday announced the signing of 14-year-old standout Francis Jacobs, who became the youngest male to sign a professional contract in United States soccer history.

The Laguna Beach, Calif. native joined the USL Championship club amid interest from multiple European clubs. Jacobs is eligible to make his first appearance as early as Saturday against Las Vegas Lights FC.

“Francis is a special Orange County talent and has shown a maturity on the field way beyond his years,” club president of soccer operations and general manager Oliver Wyss said. “He is the perfect model of player to develop in our pathway to professional program that we have established here in Orange County.”

Francis is a central midfielder.

“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.” Wyss said. “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.”

Jacobs is 14 years, four months and 29 days old. When Freddy Adu signed with Major League Soccer and D.C. United in 2003, he was 14 years, five months and 16 days old.

“I am very excited for Francis, who is a young and gifted local talent, to join our team,” OCSC head coach Braeden Cloutier said. “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, who signed July 26, joined OCSC following a stint with Irvine Strikers, where his performances earned him national team call-ups with the U.S. Under-14 national side and, most recently, as a participant in the 2018 U.S. junior national team camp.

The teenager hoped to follow in the footsteps of Orange County SC teammate Aaron Cervantes, who signed his first professional contract at the age of 15 prior to the 2018 season. This year, Cervantes has become a regular in goal for OCSC, recording eight appearances and two shutouts while splitting time with the U.S. U-17 national team.

“It is really exciting to be playing for Orange County SC,” Jacobs said. “I would like to thank Mr. Keston, Oliver and 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.”