The 2022 MLS NEXT Fest wrapped up this week, with a total of six age groups battling it out across showcase games and for Generation adidas Cup seeding.
Competing in front of college, pro and U.S. Soccer scouts, there was plenty of action and ground to cover at the Empire Polo Grounds in Indio, California.
Here’s a small snapshot of some of the teams that fared well in the four oldest age groups.
Los Angeles FC
LAFC were in a class of their own in the three games they played. After opening with a 3-0 win over Real Colorado, the team beat Hoover-Vestavia Soccer 5-0 and Jacksonville FC 2-0. They were one of a small handful of teams that didn’t concede a goal across the four oldest age groups. Marvin Gamez, who scored a sensational goal, led the team with five tallies. Reigning U17 MLS NEXT MVP Bryan Moyado helped pull the strings in midfield.
Such is the depth and talent in South Florida that a club like Weston can fly across the country and perform well. Weston won all three games, conceding just one goal in a 2-1 win over Minnesota United. Julian Recio and Juan Hurtado scored two goals apiece, while Stefano D’Agostino played in the U-19 Best Of match.
The Pennsylvania side bested an array of opponents, all without conceding a goal. Classics teams tend to keep games tight and are difficult to break down, and they managed exactly that in games against IMG Academy, Met Oval and Albion SC. Forward Cole McEvoy scored three times, including a brace against IMG, while Christian McGillen tallied versus Met Oval.
Columbus Crew SC
The Crew’s 2006s spun off three wins from three games, topping Group A. It started thanks to a late penalty kick from Owen Presthus that narrowly edged out the Portland Timbers. A second-game matchup with Inter Miami CF yielded another win, thanks to goals from Brent Adu-Gyamfi and Anthony Alaouieh. The latter has excelled so far this season after joining Columbus from Michigan Wolves. Midfielder Taha Habroune found the back of the net twice and Vaughn DeRath (also previously with Wolves) rounded out the scoring in a 3-1 defeat of CF Montréal.
Chicago’s offense paved the way to three wins from all three Group D games. Their forward play proved vital since the back line was unable to secure a shutout in any of the matches. The attacking triumvirate of Michael Ramirez, Daniel Zepeda and Dylan Borso did the bulk of the heavy lifting as Zepeda and Ramirez scored in all three games, Borso in two.
Forward Julian Placias was crucial in helping LA finish in first place in Group E. While he didn’t score in a 2-1 opening win against FC Dallas (goals in that one came from Paulo Rudisill and Harbor Miller), Placias did score twice across the final two group games, a 2-1 win over Toronto FC and a 3-3 draw against a talented St. Louis City SC squad.
It was an all-hands-on-deck approach from Seacoast in the final third that paved the way to three wins. Eight different players scored the team’s nine goals. Santiago Somorrostro was the exception, as he scored twice in a 3-2 win over Tormenta FC Academy.
The Under-17 team locked things down defensively, laying the platform for three wins, and conceding just one goal. Defender Xavius Lanford, who appeared in a Best Of match, came up big in the showcase finale, scoring in a 1-0 win versus Nomads SC.
LA United Futbol Academy
A trio of players with four goals each fired LA United Futobl Academy to three comfortable wins. Wyatt Ponting, Kenneth Solares and Daniel Gonzalez combined for 12 of the team’s 14 goals.
Total Futbol Academy
Matched up against a wide variety of opposition from Virginia, Northern California and Michigan, staying close to home in SoCal surely helped TFA secure three wins. Their performance was highlighted by a first-half barrage of three goals from Christian Sotomayor and a brace by Adriano Samayoa in a 3-1 defeat of Atletico Santa Rosa.
The storied power from New York secured three results from its cross-country trip. The defense was the story: two 1-0 wins, finishing the showcase without conceding a goal after defeating Real Colorado 3-0 in the finale. Diego Colon stepped up and scored four of the team’s five goals.
Despite drawing 1-1 against IMG Academy, the talented side from Chicagoland managed an unbeaten performance in California. That included a 1-0 win over a talented Atlanta United team, with Brayan Ralda scoring the winner.
New York Red Bulls
A talented Red Bulls side won when it counted, defeating San Jose Earthquakes by a 3-2 score in the finale. New York’s nine goals were most among the Generation adidas Cup Under-15 teams, as the attack got the job done.
After losing 3-2 to open Group A play, TFC bounced back and managed to top the group. That included the defense going into lockdown mode to beat Inter Miami CF 2-0 and Colorado Rapids 1-0. Shola Jimoh (2), Phillip Biskupsk, Daniel Kaiko and Kemari Record-Wright were among the goal scorers.
St. Louis City SC
It was an extremely strong trio of games for the California side: 14 goals scored, zero conceded. Robert Jacobs and Efren Solis were crucial in the team’s offensive output, scoring four goals apiece in the three games. Finn O'Brien and Griffin Brandon started in central defense in all three games as well.
Louisiana TDP Elite
Bolstered by four goals in three games by Layton Pruitt, the Louisiana side got three wins in all three showcase matches. Pruitt’s highlight came in the form of a hat trick against the San Francisco Glens.
St. Louis Scott Gallagher
With St. Louis City excelling against MLS Academy opponents, SLSG showed the depth of the region by winning all three of its U-15 Showcase matches. Sam Goldstein finished with three goals, including a brace in a 2-1 win over Chargers SC.