Atlanta United’s Under-19 academy team will take part in the highly-respected Mercedes-Benz JuniorCup in Germany this weekend, a feather in the cap of one of Major League Soccer’s youngest but most ambitious youth programs.
A small-sided indoor tournament held at the Glaspalast (Glass Palace) in Sindelfingen, a town near Stuttgart that is home to one of the German automaker’s largest assembly plants, the JuniorCup has featured some of the top youth players in the world from more than 40 nations since it began 29 years ago.
Future stars like Mesut Özil, Manuel Neuer, Sami Khedira, Marcus Rashford, Leroy Sane and Bacary Sagna – to name just a few – have shown themselves on the Sindelfingen’s stage over the years, with nearly 100 participants going on to become national-team players for their respective countries. The event also features a parallel competition with teams made up of Daimler factory apprentices.
Europäische Spitzenklasse in Sindelfingen! ⭐️ Schon am ersten Turniertag (Sa, 5.1.) erwarten euch u.a. mit @LFC - @VfB oder @FCBayern - @RangersFC spannende und hochklassige Duelle. ⚽️ Die gute Nachricht: Für Samstag gibt es noch Sitzplatzkarten. ⏩ https://t.co/NVyVeUKW6T ⏪ pic.twitter.com/0usamnERDg— Mercedes-Benz Fußball (@mbfussball) December 23, 2018
The Five Stripes face Liverpool, Schalke and Stuttgart on Saturday, and depending on those results will be seeded and drawn into another full day of competition on Sunday.
Though less than three years old, Atlanta’s academy – the product of a merger with the pre-existing Georgia United program – has already won a U.S. Soccer Development Academy national championship and groomed several MLS Homegrown Players.