Talented MLS academy players have passed through the Generation adidas Cup throughout the years of its various iterations.
After assessing some of the top talent that used the tournament as a stepping stone, below is the Best XI of players that competed for an MLS academy.
An asterisk symbol indicates players who were previously selected as 22 Under 22 presented by BODYARMOR picks.
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- Generation adidas Cup year(s): 2019 with Chicago Fire FC
- Current club: Chicago Fire FC
The teenage goalkeeper was an early pro signing out of the Chicago Fire Academy. He had the chance to make an impression playing up during the 2019 edition of the tournament. He split time in goal with Damian Las, who is now with Austin FC.
- Generation adidas Cup year(s): 2018 with New York City FC
- Current club: New York City FC
On his way to representing the US Under-17 squad at the 2019 World Cup, Gray competed at the 2018 edition of the tournament. Some of his teammates that year include fellow NYCFC Homegrowns Justin Haak, Andres Jasson and Nico Benalcazar, along with Joe Scally and Gio Reyna.
- Generation adidas Cup year(s): 2018 and 2019 with Seattle Sounders FC
- Current Club: Seattle Sounders FC
Atencio was part of a Seattle squad that won back-to-back trophies at the Generation adidas Cup. The midfielder played at the 2018 edition of the tournament, helping Seattle win the Premier Division. The following year, Seattle became the first MLS team to win the Champions Division, defeating Valencia by a 1-0 score. Current Sounders first-team players Danny Leyva and Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez were also crucial in 2019.
- Generation adidas Cup year(s): 2014 with Real Salt Lake
- Current club: Real Salt Lake*
The Real Salt Lake stalwart helped his side reach the final against Stoke City, where they came up short on penalty kicks. The 25-year-old center back has more than 160 MLS appearances since he signed his first contract in 2014.
- Generation adidas Cup year(s): 2017 and 2018 with Atlanta United
- Current club: Arminia Bielefeld (Bundesliga)
The talented left back was a dominant player at the youth level, helping the Atlanta United Academy achieve success at different levels. He played at two straight Generation adidas Cups before finally breaking through with the Atlanta first team in 2020. This past winter, the 20-year-old completed a move to German Bundesliga side Arminia Bielefeld.
- Generation adidas Cup year(s): 2015 with FC Dallas
- Current club: Juventus (Serie A)
One of the most well-known and accomplished alumni from the FC Dallas Academy, McKennie played at the tournament in 2015. Reggie Cannon was among his teammates that year.
- Generation adidas Cup year(s): 2017 and 2018 with New York City FC
- Current club: Borussia Dortmund (Bundesliga)
Before embarking on his career in Europe with Borussia Dortmund, Reyna played at multiple editions of the tournament. He helped the NYCFC U16 squad win the Premier Division in 2017, earning the Golden Ball that year.
- Generation adidas Cup year(s): 2016, 2017 and 2018 with LA Galaxy
- Current club: LA Galaxy*
Signed back in 2018, Alvarez has played at a handful of Generation adidas Cups, tormenting opposing defenses with his passing and vision. He scored three goals and added a pair of assists in five games at the 2017 edition.
- Generation adidas Cup year(s): 2016 with FC Dallas
- Current club: FC Dallas*
The intelligence, movement and shrewdness off the ball were all easy to spot during Ferreira’s youth days. He punished defenders with his ability to pop up on the wing or through the middle, and was difficult to stop along with Paxton Pomykal back in 2016.
- Generation adidas Cup year(s): 2019 with San Jose Earthquakes
- Current club: San Jose Earthquakes*
As he seeks to harness his pace against professionals, Cowell was even more difficult to slow down against his peers. He played up an age group at the 2019 edition of the tournament.
- Generation adidas Cup year(s): 2011 with LA Galaxy
- Current club: FC Dallas
Arriola played with the Galaxy at the 2011 edition of the Generation adidas Cup, fresh off playing for the US Under-17 men's national team at the World Cup. He helped LA win the tournament that year, besting FC Dallas in the final 2-0.
- Ricardo Pepi (FC Dallas – 2018 and 2019)
- Zack Steffen (Philadelphia Union – 2012)
- Chituru Odunze (Vancouver Whitecaps FC – 2019)
- Paxton Pomykal (FC Dallas – 2016)
- Edwin Cerrillo (FC Dallas – 2017)
- Sam Vines (Colorado Rapids – 2014)
- Gianluca Busio (Sporting Kansas City – 2017 and 2018)
- Diego Fagundez (New England Revolution – 2011)
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