Generation adidas Cup 2014: Academy talent on display as tournament kicks off in Texas
Time for the future to take center stage in the present.
The Generation adidas Cup, Major League Soccer's U-17 championship, kicks off Monday in Frisco, Texas. It runs through Sunday, April 20, when the Generation adidas Cup champion will be crowned in Toyota Stadium, home of FC Dallas.
Nine MLS teams and three international squads – Stoke City (England), Flamengo (Brazil), and CD Guadalajara (Mexico) – will compete in the International Division. The winner of this division will be crowned champions. Eight other MLS teams, who did not qualify for the final round, will compete in the Domestic Division.
MLSsoccer.com will stream six matches live throughout the week, including the two semifinals on Friday, April 18, and the final on Sunday.
HOW THEY GOT TO FRISCO
The 2013-14 Generation adidas Cup began over Labor Day in 2013, when the East Region convened for its first preliminary round matchups. After that, the Central Region and West Region got going. These preliminary rounds determined which clubs advanced to the International Division of this week's Generation adidas Cup championship rounds.
The top clubs from each region advanced to the championship round and were placed in the International Divison. They were split up and placed in separate groups along with one international club.
|Group A||Group B||Group C|
New York Red Bulls
Real Salt Lake
Stoke City (ENG)
San Jose Earthquakes
Chivas de Guadalajara (MEX)
The remaining clubs from each region were placed in the Domestic Division.
- Chicago Fire
- Chivas USA
- Columbus Crew
- DC United
- Houston Dynamo
- Montreal Impact
- Portland Timbers
- Sporting KC
- Players born 1 January 1997 or later are eligible to play.
- MLS teams may include three non-roster players that could be registered as part of the club's Homegrown Player list. This includes players from affiliate clubs.
- Games will consist of 35-minute halves.
- Teams will be allowed to make five substitutions per game, with no re-entry.
- Tie games will be followed by a shootout, and the shootout winner will earn one additional point in the standings.
- Tiebreakers: Points, wins, head-to-head, goals scored, goal difference, coin toss
- Three yellow cards will result in a one-game suspension
PLAYERS TO WATCH
The tournament itself will reveal some prospects and standouts, but here are six names that may have already come across your radar via various youth national teams:
J.T. Marcinkowski, goalkeeper, San Jose Earthquakes
Part of the US Under-18 national team, Marcinkowski is a veteran of youth national teams and has already been named all-Western Conference in the US Soccer Development Academy for each of the last two years. Still only a junior at De La Salle High School, he has verbally committed to Georgetown University.
Christian Herrera, goalkeeper, Real Salt Lake
Also part of the US Under-18 national team, Herrera stands an imposing 6-foot-6, and he will not turn 17 until the final day of the tournament. From Las Cruces, N.M., Herrera is part of the Real Salt Lake residency program in Casa Grande, Ariz., and posted a memorable penalty-kick save in a select game at December's Development Academy Showcase.
Justen Glad, defender, Real Salt Lake
The newest Homegrown signing in Major Leauge Soccer, Glad is nevertheless expected to participate in the tournament (many teenage signings still participate in academy games; Diego Fagundez competed in the tournament both as an amateur in 2010 and as a professional in 2011). Nicknamed “Mini-Borchers” after a strong preseason with the Real Salt Lake first team, the Tucson product is also a U-18 international and can play both center back or outside back.
Quentin Pearson, defender, Colorado Rapids
Yet another member of the US Under-18 national team, Pearson is primarily a center back and has been a regular with the Rapids’ U-18 team despite still being age-eligible for the U-16s. Another player who will turn 17 during the tournament, he has verbally committed to attend the University of Washiington.
Jorge Ruiz, forward, LA Galaxy
After switching from Chivas USA to the LA Galaxy over the summer, Ruiz has continued to score goals, netting eight in nine games at the U-16 level and adding two more with the Galaxy’s U-18s. Another US U-18 international, he has history in the tournament: playing for Chivas USA, he scored both goals in the final of the U-15 competition in 2012 to beat Toronto FC in the final.
Julien Ngoy, forward, Stoke City
Stoke beat out a host of European clubs in a race to sign the Belgium youth international, still only 16 years old. With a sprinter's speed, he is sure to test the back lines of LA, RSL and Toronto.
While the tournament mostly showcases players born in 1997 and 1998, there are 10 players from the nine MLS entrants who were born in 1999. How much they impact the tournament remains to be seen, but their inclusion bodes well for the future.
Of the 10, perhaps the two most intriguing come from San Jose, where Kaya Fabbretti and Ivan Valencia, both high school freshman, have posted gaudy scoring totals (combining for 50 goals in 15 games) with the Earthquakes’ U-14 team, and both stepped up to the U-16 level in March.
Philadelphia are bringing five players born in 1999, including high-scoring Colin Brezniak and US U-15 international Andrew Aprahamian, along with Omar Ayala, B. Josue Monge and and Matthew Real.
From Seattle comes Alec Zimmerman, the rare 1999 birthday registered full-time with a U-16 team; he has scored four goals in only seven games for Seattle, while Colorado listed US youth international Samuel Vines on their roster, and Toronto included forward Glenn Muenkat and defender Bola Avolonto on theirs.