SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — The San Jose Earthquakes announced they’ve signed Saratoga native Niko Tsakiris to a homegrown player contract through the 2025 season with an option for 2026.

16-year-old Tsakiris is the fifth-youngest player in club history and the 10th player of the Quakes Academy to sign with the first team, ninth such signing since Dec. 2016.

“Niko is an incredibly promising young player that we integrated into first team training sessions throughout the 2021 season in preparation for this opportunity,” said Earthquakes GM Chris Leitch in a press release.

“We’ve always been impressed by his soccer intelligence and technical skill as an attacking player and have a development plan in place to help him reach his potential in San Jose. I’d like to thank his parents Shaun and Nyssa for their support throughout this process.”

Tsakiris competed locally for the De Anza Force Soccer Club before moving to Florida at 10 years old.

In 2017, Tsakiris returned to the Bay Area and joined the Quakes Academy soon after.

Three years later, Tsakiris would earn a call-up to a United States U15 Boys’ National Team camp alongside teammate and fellow homegrown Emi Ochoa.

“I’m thankful for the opportunity and humbled by it,” said Tsakiris.

“I’m looking forward to being a part of this group and growing along with the team. I can’t wait to get started.”

The Saratoga native and Los Gatos High School student is the son of the U.S. U20 Boys’ National Team assistant coach Shaun Tsakiris.

Currently, the Earthquakes have eight homegrown players on its roster — Tsakiris joins goalkeepers JT Marcinkowski and Emi Ochoa, defenders Tommy Thompson and Casey Walls, midfielders Gilbert Fuentes and Will Richmond, and forward Cade Cowell.

Tsakiris is currently ranked by TopDrawerSoccer as the No. 2 player in the Northern California and Hawaii region for the Class of 2024, as well as the No. 9 midfielder in the nation.

What is a Homegrown Player?

A homegrown player is an academy player who is given a first-team contract and is required to have spent at least one year in the club’s academy, and to have lived in the club’s territory.

Major League Soccer (MLS) created the Homegrown Player Rule in 2008.

Prior to the rule, young players would be assigned through one of the pooled allocation processes like the MLS SuperDraft.

Between June 2020 and the start of the 2021 season, a total of 33 homegrown players were signed to first-team rosters.