Strykers Sign Attacking Prospect Kai Garza

by Gunnar Berndt

16-year-old could make MASL debut at San Diego today

Ontario, Calif. — The Empire Strykers today announced that they have signed attacking prospect Kai Garza to an amateur contract. Based in San Diego, Garza was a protégé of Paul Wright’s prior to Wright taking over as Empire’s head coach last fall. The 16-year-old has been training with the Strykers for several months, his hard work and commitment culminating in a selection to the club’s traveling roster for tonight’s rivalry clash against the Sockers.

Kai Garza and company take on host San Diego on Sunday, March 10, at 5:05 p.m. PT. Tickets to Empire’s March 17 home game against the Sockers are available here.

“I can’t think of anyone who would be more deserving of this opportunity,” remarked Paul Wright, who is a local legend of the game in San Diego and a certified personal trainer. “Having worked with Kai extensively, I can genuinely say that he doesn’t only possess a wealth of talent but is mature beyond his years and exceptionally dedicated to taking the next step in his career. I’m optimistic that making the game day squad is just the beginning for Kai.”

The son of a Japanese mother and an American serviceman father, Garza has dual citizenship and has grown up between San Diego and Fukuoka, Japan, listing both as his hometowns. Having lived in Southern California for the past few years, the teenager has spent time honing his skills as a member of City SC Carlsbad as well as elite youth academies Nomads SC and San Diego Loyal Select. The latter served as the development arm of former USL Championship outfit San Diego Loyal, which in 2023 ceased operations due to the 2025 arrival of MLS expansion franchise San Diego FC.

“It feels amazing to be a part of the roster for Sunday,” said Garza. “I am a little nervous, but I’d say it’s mostly excitement. I can’t wait to be on the field so I can prove to the coaches, the players, and everyone else watching what I can offer to the team.”

Following today’s match at San Diego, Kai Garza and the Strykers welcome the Sockers to the Inland Empire on Sunday, March 17. Tickets to the meeting at Ontario’s Toyota Arena may be purchased here.