One of the benefits of putting together the Generation adidas Cup is the opportunity for MLS NEXT academies to play against top competition from around the world.
Results on the field at younger age groups aren’t necessarily an indicator of one country’s ability to develop players over another, but the tournament offers MLS teams an opportunity to play against a diverse group of opponents: sometimes coming out on top, other times perhaps not.
Such was the case during Saturday’s opening day at the Generation adidas Cup, where a handful of MLS sides emerged as winners against teams from around the globe.
Here's a look at some of the notable matchups as the 2023 edition began in Bradenton, Florida.
Seattle Sounders U-15s rout Arsenal FC U-15s
Seattle Sounders' Under-15 squad notched a 3-0 win against Arsenal FC in their group opener. Kelvin-Luis Brito scored the opening goal from the penalty spot just before halftime. Abad Vargas headed home a second goal from a corner kick eight minutes into the second half.
Vargas, who is the younger brother of Seattle Sounders first-team midfielder Obed, was involved again in the third goal as his high pressure up the field forced a turnover. He then set up teammate Jordan Dierks for the final goal of the game.
Generation adidas Cup Highlights - U15s: Seattle vs Arsenal
U-17 contenders start off strong
Entering the 2023 Generation adidas Cup, two of the perceived favorites in the Under-17 age group were the Columbus Crew and LAFC. Both sides enjoyed stellar starts to the tournament in Florida.
The Crew, matched up against D.C. United, jumped out to a 3-0 lead and held on for a 4-1 win in the end. Brent Adu-Gyamfi scored four minutes into the game, part of a flurry of three goals in the game’s first 20 minutes. Mohamed Saad and William King accounted for that barrage, and Cole Mrowka added the fourth early in the second half. Sydney Aggrey poached D.C.’s consolation strike.
Meanwhile, it was a big win for LAFC in another MLS matchup against international opposition as the U-17 side bested Liga MX's Club América by a 6-0 margin. Adrian Wibowo and a Javier Hernandez brace put LAFC out in front by a 3-0 lead in the first half. Matthews Evans added a brace, with a Kyrome Lumsden tally sandwiched in between. A crucial Group 10 matchup looms on Sunday against the New York Red Bulls, who beat Inter Miami CF by a 3-2 score.
Defending champions Seattle can’t be counted out to defend their crown. Facing Chicago Fire FC, US U-17 forward Christopher Aquino scored a hat trick, converting a penalty to open the scoring on the way to Seattle’s 4-0 win. Nathen Song rounded out the scoring with a second-half strike.
Red Bulls, Union secure big wins in U-15 openers
In the younger age group, East Coast sides New York Red Bulls and Philadelphia Union have emerged as two of the best in MLS NEXT play.
That carried over into the first day of action at the Generation adidas Cup. The Union beat Inter Miami by a 2-0 score in Group 6. Anisse Saidi provided the quickfire start, while Jordan Griffin added a second-half strike.
It was an offensive explosion from the Red Bulls in Group 2. Forward Tanner Rosborough scored three goals in New York’s 7-1 win. Forward Julian Hall was excellent, part of New York’s high press to create chances high up the field. Hall, Gil de Souza, Paul Sokoloff and Ryan Scuro accounted for the rest of the Red Bull goals.