Efrain Alvarez - LA Galaxy - Close up
Courtesy of LA Galaxy

Baer: 10 players to watch at the 2018 Generation adidas Cup

The 2018 edition of Generation adidas Cup kicks off on Friday with a full slate of matches set to take place in Frisco, Texas. The tournament plays every other day from March 23-31, with champions crowned in two Under-17 divisions and an Under-12 division on Saturday.

As you carve out time to catch the stars of tomorrow, here are 10 MLS academy kids you need to clear out the schedule for, some of whom have already signed professional contracts with their respective first teams or USL affiliates.

Streaming information for group stage matches will be finalized later this week.

Efrain Alvarez (LA Galaxy)

The playmaker recently signed a first-team contract with the Galaxy after previously signing with LA Galaxy II last fall. The 15-year-old was one of the top players at last year's GA Cup, when he was one of the youngest players participating, Alvarez collected three goals and two assists in under 300 minutes. In two qualifying matches for this year's tournament, Alvarez tallied three goals and an assist. The Mexican youth international appeared in Los Dos' season opener on Saturday, completing eight of his 10 passes in 21 minutes of action.

Matches streamed: Mar. 25 vs. Monaco (3:30 pm ET)

George Bello (Atlanta United)

George Bello in preseason | Courtesy of Atlanta United

Bello was one of three Homegrown Players Atlanta United signed last summer and he could get some minutes in USL for Atlanta United 2 this season. The left back has no qualms about getting into the attack, as evidenced by his goal and two assists in last year's tournament. The 16-year-old won 69 percent of his duels during qualifying for the 2018 tournament.

Matches streamed: Mar. 23 vs. Independiente del Valle (5:45 pm ET), Mar. 27 vs. Flamengo (3:30 pm ET)

Sebastian Berhalter (Columbus Crew SC)

Sebastian Berhalter | Courtesy of Columbus Crew SC

Like father, like son. The offspring of Columbus Crew SC head coach and sporting director Gregg Berhalter returns to Frisco to participate in his second GA Cup. The 16-year-old central midfielder scored in 2017's GA Cup and has been a key figure for Crew SC during this year's Development Academy season.

Matches streamed: Mar. 25 vs. Matsumoto Yamaga FC (10 am ET)

Gianluca Busio (Sporting KC)

The North Carolina native signed a first-team contract with Sporting KC in August 2017 and enters his second GA Cup tournament with the club. The 15-year-old has consistently played up an age group during his time with SKC and his attacking ability and creativity should be on display as his team faces off against Real Madrid, Atletico Paranaense and New York City FC in the Champions Division.

Matches streamed: Mar. 23 vs. Real Madrid (7:15 pm ET)

Gilbert Fuentes (San Jose Earthquakes)

Gilbert Fuentes training | Courtesy of San Jose Earthquakes

Fuentes was one of two Homegrown teenagers signed by the Quakes this offseason and the central midfielder has been playing with the Under-19's during this Development Academy season. The 16-year-old completed 83 percent of his passes during GA Cup qualifying, when San Jose went winless in six matches.

Marcelo Palomino (Houston Dynamo)

Marcelo Palomino in preseason | Courtesy of Houston Dynamo

Palomino participated in the Dynamo's preseason camp this year and is widely recognized as the Dynamo's top prospect. The attacking midfielder could get an opportunity with RGV FC in USL this season after proving to be a star for Houston at the Under-19 level.

Gio Reyna (New York City FC)

Gio Reyna in preseason with NYCFC | Courtesy of NYCFC

The son of US national team legend and current New York City FC sporting director Claudio Reyna made a name for himself at last year's tournament when he led his team to the Premier Division title and the Golden Ball. The attacker parlayed those performances into a spot in NYCFC's preseason camp, along with some of his other academy teammates, and will look to win the tournament's top division this year. The 15-year-old tallied four goals and two assists during qualifying.

Matches streamed: Mar. 23 vs. Atletico Paranaense (3:30 pm ET), Mar. 25 vs. Real Madrid (5:45 pm ET)

Joe Scally (New York City FC)

Reyna's teammate became the second Homegrown ever signed by NYCFC on Wednesday. The 15-year-old will be one of the youngest players at the tournament, much like last year, when he helped his club capture a trophy. The right back has they physicality to match up with anyone defensively and the pace to get forward in the attack.

Matches streamed: Mar. 23 vs. Atletico Paranaense (3:30 pm ET), Mar. 25 vs. Real Madrid (5:45 pm ET)

Dante Sealy (FC Dallas)

The son of former MLS forward Scott Sealy, Dante – who turns 15 in April – will likely be one of the youngest players to participate in the tournament. Playing with the U-17's during the Development Academy season, Sealy has shown he belongs in the higher age group, posting four goals and three assists in eight matches.

Matches streamed: Mar. 25 vs. Pachuca (7:15 pm ET)

Ray Serrano (Seattle Sounders)

Ray Serrano playing with S2 | Courtesy of Seattle Sounders

Serrano comes to Frisco as the top scorer during qualifying, netting 11 goals in six matches. The 15-year-old signed with the Sounders' USL team in February, becoming the youngest player in club history to sign a professional deal. He played 13 minutes in S2's season opener, getting one shot on target.

Matches streamed: Mar. 23 vs. Matsumoto Yamaga FC (1 pm ET)

Others to watch: Jacob Akanyirige (San Jose Earthquakes); Justin Haak (NYCFC); Damian Las (Chicago Fire); Moses Nyeman (D.C. United); Jacen Russell-Rowe (Toronto FC)

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