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How Francis Jacobs, 14, his family and his new club are working to ensure he's not the 'next Freddy Adu'

ESPN FC's Alejandro Moreno explains why Freddy Adu was unable to turn his promise into an illustrious professional career.
Jacobs made the decision with close support and input from his family, who will manage his schooling with his increasing focus on soccer.

The comparisons are inevitable.

In November 2003, 14-year-old Freddy Adu signed his first professional contract with MLS and D.C. United. In the years since, Adu's career has been held up as a cautionary tale of too much too soon, showing how being the face of a league set the stage for a career that never lived up to the hype. Now another 14-year-old is slated to turn pro and is doing so a few months younger than Adu was when he became a professional.

Late last month, Francis Jacobs signed...

Adieu, Adu! Jacobs youngest to sign U.S. deal

USL Championship side Orange County SC has signed 14-year-old Francis Jacobs to a multiyear professional contract, the club and the player have told ESPN FC, making him the youngest male player to sign a professional soccer contract in the U.S.

Jacobs, who projects as a central midfielder, signed with OCSC on July 26 at 14 years, four months and 29 days old. Freddy Adu was 14 years, five months and 16 days old when he signed with MLS and D.C. United in November 2003.

Earlier this year, 13-year-old...

Has the USL found the way forward in soccer's concussion problem?

Jan Vertonghen of Tottenham Hotspur reacts before going off injured.
Jan Vertonghen's injury was the latest flash point to call attention to football's treatment of head injuries.

The issue of head injuries in soccer -- and how to diagnose them -- has received more attention in recent weeks. The handling of an incident involving Tottenham Hotspur defender Jan Vertonghen, who returned to the field in the first leg of the Champions League semifinal against Ajax after suffering a head injury, was criticized in some quarters after the player nearly collapsed shortly after being cleared for play.

Now, a league is prepared to take the on-field diagnosis of head injuries to...

Tulsa Roughnecks owner: 'Zero tolerance' for Bastidas hate speech

The president of the Tulsa Roughnecks cited the USL's "zero-tolerance policy" against hate speech as the reason for terminating the contract of midfielder Fabian Bastidas on Sunday, and added he wanted to send a message to the city and beyond that such behavior would not be tolerated.

The decision came in the wake of statements by Oklahoma City Energy FC defender/midfielder Atiba Harris that a Tulsa player, later identified as Bastidas, had racially abused him in Saturday's match between the two...