Major League Soccer on Thursday announced eight highly touted college players named to the 2022 Generation adidas class and released the tentative list of 176 players eligible for selection in MLS SuperDraft 2022 presented by adidas.
Generation adidas is a joint program between MLS and adidas that sees a handful of top collegiate underclassmen and youth national team players signed by MLS to Generation adidas contracts and made available in the SuperDraft. In order to provide Generation adidas players with the best professional environment, Generation adidas player salaries are not charged against an MLS team's annual salary budget, providing an added incentive for that club to develop the player. Eventually, these GA players graduate to senior player contracts and their salaries are charged against a team's budget.
Several players now starring on the international stage began their MLS careers through the Generation adidas program, including current US men’s national team members Miles Robinson (No. 2 overall selection, 2017 SuperDraft), Cristian Roldan (No. 16, 2015 SuperDraft), Jackson Yueill (No. 6, 2017 SuperDraft) and Walker Zimmerman (No. 7, 2013 SuperDraft), and members of the Canadian men's national team like Tajon Buchanan (No. 9, 2019 SuperDraft) and Richie Laryea (No. 7, 2016 SuperDraft).
Eight players comprise the 2022 Generation adidas class:
An All-Big Ten selection in each his first two seasons at the University of Maryland, Ben Bender was the unanimous Big Ten Midfielder of the Year selection in 2021 after scoring seven goals and notching five assists in 18 games. He also garnered first-team All-American honors from the United Soccer Coaches following that campaign.
As a freshman, Bender started all 11 games for the Terrapins, scoring two goals. Bender prepped at Calvert Hall College High School in Towson, Md., where he was named a 2019 Allstate All-American and was a two-time All-MIAA selection.
Stanford forward Ousseni Bouda, the 2019 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, burst onto the collegiate scene with the Cardinal, starting 22 matches while ranking second on the team in goals (five) and points (15). After missing the 2020-21 season due to injury, he returned to action as a junior, pacing Stanford in points (19), assists (nine) and tied for the lead in goals (five). His nine assists led the Pac-12, helping him earn first-team all-conference honors for the second time in his career.
A native of Burkina Faso in Western Africa, Bouda spent four years at the Right to Dream Academy in Ghana before enrolling at the Millbrook School in Millbrook, N.Y. While at the Millbrook School, Bouda set numerous school records, including single-game (seven goals), single-season (61) and career (156) goal-scoring records, en route to being named the 2019 USA TODAY All-USA Boys Soccer Player of the Year and the 2018 Gatorade National Boys Soccer Player of the Year.
In 2021, defender Erik Centeno was the only freshman to start in all 16 games for the University of the Pacific, recording six goals and five assists. Following the season, he garnered first-team All-West Coast Conference and the conference’s Freshman of the Year honors after leading the team in points and tying for the team lead in goals.
A native of Stockton, Calif., Centeno starred at Weston Ranch High School and played for the Sacramento Republic FC Academy.
Indiana University goalkeeper Roman Celentano made history following the 2021 season, becoming the first goalkeeper in Big Ten history to win the conference’s Goalkeeper of the Year award multiple times in a career, doing so in consecutive seasons (2020-21 and 2021). In 2021, Celentano recorded a career-high 11 shutouts and led the Hoosiers through a stretch of seven consecutive shutouts in the month of October, the second-longest single-season streak in program history.
A two-time first-team All-Big Ten selection, Celentano earned Best XI first-team accolades from Top Drawer Soccer and was named a second-team All-American by United Soccer Coaches after conceding just six goals in 1490 minutes of action and registering a 0.36 goals-against average as a sophomore. Celentano’s stellar play helped Indiana advance to the national championship against Marshall, and he was named the Defensive Most Outstanding Player of the 2020 NCAA Tournament.
Kipp Keller, the 2021 Atlantic 10 Conference Defensive Player of the Year, started all 21 games for Saint Louis in 2021, while leading the team to an NCAA top-15 finish in goals-against average (0.81 goals per contest).
His stout play on the backline helped SLU to an undefeated regular season for the first time in 50 years. The St. Louis, Mo., native earned second-team All-American honors following the 2021 season and is a three-time all-conference honoree.
Isaiah Parker, a native of Gurnee, Ill., was Keller's teammate in 2021 and immediately made an impact on the Billikens front line as a freshman. He tallied three goals and seven assists across 21 matches (17 starts) while earning 2021 first-team Freshman Best XI honors from Top Drawer Soccer and Atlantic 10 All-Rookie team honors.
Prior to his collegiate career, Parker competed for FC United Soccer Club, where he helped the U17 and U19 teams to U.S. Soccer Development Academy and MLS NEXT playoffs, respectively.
Hailing from St. Charles, Mo., Patrick Schulte is a two-time Atlantic 10 first-team selection and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2021 A-10 Championship. In the fall of 2021, he started all 21 games for the Billikens, posting a 16-1-4 record, including nine shutouts and a conference-best 0.81 goals-against average. Schulte’s 34 career victories in goal rank fourth in program history.
Prior to arriving on campus, Schulte was the starting ‘keeper for Saint Louis FC U19 Academy team that advanced to the USSDA playoffs in 2019 and was called into a United States U18 men's national team camp.
The 2021 ACC Offensive Player of the Year, Duke forward Thorleifur Ulfarsson finished his sophomore campaign with one of the top goal-scoring seasons in school history, recording 15 goals on his way to first-team All-American honors from the United Soccer Coaches, College Soccer News and Top Drawer Soccer.
Hailing from Kopavogur, Iceland, Ulfarsson arrived in Durham in January 2021, earning ACC All-Freshman and team Most Valuable Offensive Player honors that spring while leading the team with nine points (four goals, one assist).
In his native Iceland, Ulfarsson began playing with the club Breidablik, located south of Reykjavik, at age 6 and earned a place on the club’s U23 squad from 2017-20 as a teenager, helping the U23s to runner-up finishes in each of those three seasons.