Former Loyola Marymount star Rafael Baca, who has been with the San Jose Earthquakes since preseason, finally received a contract with the club Friday, about 4½ months after coach Frank Yallop decided he wanted the winger on his roster.
Visa issues clouded the process, but Baca (Lawndale/Animo Leadership HS) has been training with the Quakes and made three appearances for the team’s reserve side. He will be eligible for San Jose’s home game Saturday night against Philadelphia.
Baca, an NSCAA third-team All-American last fall after leading LMU to its first West Coast Conference title, joined the Quakes as a free agent after he went undrafted in January, receiving an invitation to try out from Ian Russell after running into the San Jose assistant coach at former LMU teammate David Kucera's funeral in January.
“I went to the funeral. I don't know, sometimes things are meant to be, and Ian happened to be there, gave me the opportunity to try out …,” Baca told ESPNLosAngeles.com in February. “I told [Yallop] thank you for the opportunity and that I was going to make the most out of it.”
Yallop has consistently raved about Baca this season, and LMU coach Paul Krumpe called him can’t-miss.
“He can be a fantastic wide midfielder at the next level,” said Krumpe, a defender on the 1990 U.S. World Cup team. “Talk about a guy with a ridiculous amount of work rate. He plays much bigger than the size of his body [5-foot-8, 160 pounds]. He's solid through and through.”