This year’s edition of the Generation adidas Cup kicks off this weekend, returning for 2022 after a two-year hiatus. Under-15 and Under-17 MLS academy teams are set to battle it out against each other and some top youth academies from around the world.
There’s a long list of successful pros that have appeared at Generation adidas Cups over the years. And this year is certain to have plenty more top prospects.
Here’s a look at the Rising XI for the 2022 Generation adidas Cup Rising XI presented by BODYARMOR. Several have already turned professional and will look to showcase their current ability and potential in Frisco, Texas this week.
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Emmanuel Ochoa, San Jose Earthquakes
Emmanuel Ochoa turned pro all the way back in November 2019, signing with the San Jose Earthquakes when he was just 14 years old. He’s yet to make the breakthrough and get first team minutes (not surprising for an extremely young goalkeeper), though he did see time with the Earthquakes II in the first couple weeks of MLS NEXT Pro. He will backstop one of the top teams in the age group, going up against River Plate, Nashville SC and D.C. United in Group J.
Noah Cobb, Atlanta United
Signed pro on a Homegrown deal with Atlanta United that kicks in at the start of 2023, Noah Cobb is a center back prospect that’s earned big minutes with Atlanta United II in the past year. That experience should help him anchor Atlanta’s Under-17s and help set the foundation for a successful week in Frisco.
Brooklyn Raines, Houston Dynamo
The talented prospect continues to get integrated after signing with Houston Dynamo FC on a Homegrown deal earlier this year. A central midfielder that’s shown plenty of promise at the youth level, Brooklyn Raines is expected to feature for Houston’s Under-17 squad.
Jude Wellings, Real Salt Lake
Another two-way central midfield prospect, Jude Wellings is set to play for RSL’s U17 squad. He’s shown a relatively high ceiling while earning big minutes for the Real Monarchs in 2021, and signed a Homegrown deal with Real Salt Lake earlier in 2022. His savvy, experience and quality despite his age are all extremely impressive at this stage of his young career.
Esmir Bajraktarevic, New England Revolution
The attacking midfielder signed pro terms with the Revolution II towards the end of 2021 and earned a call-up to the US Under-20 men’s national team earlier this year. He’s played in a number of different spots, through the middle or out wide where he looks to make things happen in the attacking spaces.
Reed Baker-Whiting, Seattle Sounders
One of the only players bringing full MLS experience with him from Seattle Sounders FC, Reed Baker-Whiting is one of the top American prospects born in 2005. An all-action midfielder that can do a little bit of everything, he has a shot at being one of the top North American players on display in Texas.
Andre Gitau, Houston Dynamo
The slashing winger emerged as an option for the US Under-17 squad during a recent trip to South America. At the club level, he’s a handful for any outside back to try and slow down, as he’s a quick, shifty player that can cause trouble on or off the ball.
Bento Estrela, New York Red Bulls
Expected to join up with the Red Bulls Generation adidas Cup squad after spending a few days with the Portuguese youth national team, Estrela is a promising central midfield prospect. He hasn’t played big minutes since signing a professional contract in January 2021, as he’s dealt with some injuries over the past year. If he’s able to see the field for New York’s Under-17 squad, he has the ability and profile to offer a dominant presence in the middle of the park.
Noel Buck, New England Revolution
Noel Buck signed a Homegrown contract with the New England Revolution this offseason, after the central midfielder first turned pro with Revolution II. His résumé against full professionals makes the Revolution U17s a dark horse to contend. Buck has flashed big upside as an offensive-minded box-to-box midfielder that can contribute on both sides of the ball.
Felipe Valencia, Inter Miami CF
Back in December 2020, Felipe Valencia became the first player to graduate and sign a first-team contract out of the Inter Miami CF Academy. The winger has yet to make his MLS debut, playing primarily for Inter Miami II. The trip to Texas is a big opportunity to show that he can have an attacking impact on youth defenders as he continues to develop and improve.
Axel Kei, Real Salt Lake
Kei has already excelled in Frisco, as he shined last summer at the Under-15 MLS Next Cup, helping RSL win the competition. The forward has already shown that he can be a dominant factor at youth levels, and he’s likely to feature for the Under-17 squad despite the fact that he is still just 14 years old. Kei and RSL face Tigres, CF Montréal and Houston Dynamo.