Oakland Roots SC has signed 18-year-old midfielder Etsgar Cruz to a multi-year contract, a first pro deal for the talented local youngster. | Photo courtesy Oakland Roots SC
OAKLAND, Calif. – Oakland Roots SC announced on Thursday it had signed 18-year-old academy product Etsgar Cruz to his first professional contract ahead of the 2024 USL Championship season. The transaction is pending league and federation approval.
A native of Modesto, Calif., Cruz has been part of the Roots SC organization for nearly three years, and the latest standout from the club’s USL League Two side Project 51O to earn a professional contract with the First Team. Cruz is the first player in club history to go through the entirety of the development pathway, from Roots Recognize to Project 51O, and now Oakland Roots SC.
"We are very proud of the way Etsgar has grown within our set up and shown his consistent quality over the past few years,” said Oakland Roots Technical Director, Jordan Ferrell. “He represents the way we designed our program and pathway to work, from Roots Recognize Initiative through Project 51O and into the first team.
“Etsgar’s toughness, space-time perception, and comfort in tight spaces have been evident along with his incredible work-ethic at each step of our pyramid and he is one we are very excited about now and for the future.”
Etsgar Cruz’s joining Roots SC on his first professional deal is another landmark day for the club, and another illustration of its commitment to the Oakland community and building young talent. Cruz made two appearances for Roots SC as a USL Academy signing this past season, making his debut against Detroit City FC last July, but he’s already shown an ability to deliver in USL League Two and Project 51O that he will be able to draw on moving forward.
Cruz made 10 appearances for Project 51O this past summer, recording one goal in 768 minutes of action during the campaign. Initially part of the Roots Recognize Initiative, he is a great example of the opportunity that is coming out of USL Academy programs around the league’s ecosystem, and will be a player to watch in the next few seasons.