The 2023 Generation adidas Cup kicks off on Saturday, April 1 at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Once again, MLS academies will be tested against some of the best teams and players from around the globe.
Several players – including Jesús Ferreira, Kellyn Acosta, Weston McKennie, Joe Scally and Gio Reyna, to name a few – from the US squad at the FIFA 2022 World Cup appeared at previous Generation adidas Cup tournaments. The path from the Generation adidas Cup to the pros is a long journey, but, for many players, this week is the next step in the process.
The annual showcase tournament adopts the usual format as previous years: Under-15 and Under-17 competitions that kick off with group-stage games, before shifting to a knockout competition. The finals for both age groups are set for April 9. MLS academies are joined by teams from Mexico, Brazil, England, Spain and many more.
Here’s what to expect to see over the week-plus.
Both LAFC teams are worth a mention, and each could certainly stake a claim at winning the entire competition. This U-15 group hasn’t lost a game in MLS NEXT play in 2022-23, and while international opposition is a different look, the talent is there for them to make a push. Liam Lambert and Jude Terry have both received call-ups to the US U-15 national team.
A promising 2008 team is taking shape in the Union Academy, which has battled the New York Red Bulls for Mid-Atlantic Division dominance in the current MLS NEXT campaign. A tough Group 6 awaits against Inter Miami CF, Sporting KC and Valencia. Anisse Saidi, Cavan Sullivan and Jamir Johnson are among the regulars that have made US youth national team appearances.
Real Salt Lake’s younger age group already features players signed to MLS NEXT Pro side Real Monarchs, including talented midfielder Luca Moisa. Goalkeeper William Mackay has been in camp with the US Under-15 team, along with Omar Marquez, Juan Gio Villa and Axel Uriostegui as well. This team has the quality and experience to excel.
Standout shot-stopper Aidan Stokes is among the players returning from last year’s Generation adidas Cup experience with the Red Bulls. The goalkeeper is part of New York’s talented U-15 squad that also features US youth national team forward Julian Hall. Group 2 is a big challenge, facing CF Montréal, FC Dallas and Chelsea.
An extremely talented and formidable outfit, Columbus have a tough draw in Group 2 by facing Manchester United, Vancouver Whitecaps and D.C. United. Taha Habroune is a name that fans would be familiar with, but there’s a long list of players that can make an impact: Cole Mrowka, goalkeeper Stanislav Lapkes, Owen Presthus and Brent Adu-Gyamfi.
Several players from Canada’s Concacaf U-17 Championship squad are set to compete at the Generation adidas Cup. That includes Nathaniel Abraham, Alexander O’Brien, Richard Chukwu, Chimere Omeze, Theo Rigopoulos, Lazar Stefanovic, Andrei Dumitru and Lucas Ozimec. The team has excelled in MLS NEXT action and will look to carry that over into this week-long competition.
The expansion team’s historic start in MLS play has been well-documented. The Under-17 squad reflects the talent and quality of the area. Forward Caden Glover is set to play after signing his homegrown deal, while Mykhi Joyner is fresh off scoring in MLS NEXT Pro last weekend. The firepower is there to cause the opposition problems.
There are plenty of goals in the Galaxy’s U-17 team as well. Led by US youth veterans Paulo Rudisill and Ruben Ramos Jr., they’ve proven to be a potent force in MLS NEXT. Locking things down defensively and being consistent enough in front of goal is tricky when playing three games in three days, but the team has the foundation to find success.
In recent Generation adidas Cup history, some of the top clubs from around the world have traveled to compete in the tournament.
This year is no different, with high-level academy sides from a wide range of countries descending on Florida. That includes the Chelsea and Arsenal FC U-15 sides, featuring several players who received England U-15 call-ups over the past year. Manchester United return with a U-17 squad as well.
Spanish powerhouse teams are regular visitors to the Generation adidas Cup. Valencia and Real Madrid are taking part in the U-15 age group; similar to their English peers, several players from those teams have emerged as part of the U-15 Spanish national team picture. At the 2022 Generation adidas Cup, Valencia finished as U-15 runners-up to the Portland Timbers.
Some of the best players in the world have passed through Belgium club Genk: Kevin De Bruyne, Leon Bailey, Kalidou Koulibaly, Thibaut Courtois and current D.C. United striker Christian Benteke. This year, Genk are set to compete in the U-15 age group.
Liga MX squads have made regular appearances at past tournaments, and this year is no different. León and Atlas are set to compete with U-17 teams. Pumas and Club América have teams from both age groups traveling, while Monterrey have a team competing at U-15.
Remo Stars FC are set to become the first African club team to compete at a Generation adidas Cup. The Nigerian U-17 side is drawn in Group 8.
Twelve group-stage games will be available on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV, with 16 knockout matches to follow.
Here are six games that you won’t want to miss from the group stage:
Saturday, April 1
- U-15: Seattle Sounders FC vs. Arsenal FC, 12 pm ET
- U-17: Austin FC vs. Pumas UNAM, 4:30 pm ET
Sunday, April 2
- U-15: Inter Miami CF vs. Valencia CF, 10 am ET
Monday, April 3
- U-15: Chelsea FC vs. New York Red Bulls, 10 am ET
- U-15: Real Madrid vs. Los Angeles FC, 12 pm ET
- U-17: Manchester United FC vs. Columbus Crew, 2:30 pm ET