Arrow up that takes you to the top of the page

2024 Generation adidas Cup Review

Eyebrow graphic
April 2024
The Generation adidas Cup concluded last weekend and it was the first time I had attended in person. It was hosted at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. The IMG facility was expansive and impressive, aside from the field conditions on the main field. The pitch got beat up and was as hard as a rock by the end of the tournament, which contributed to less than ideal soccer quality. 
Sadly, this year’s edition of GA Cup will be remembered for its extracurricular activity — scuffles ignited by racial slurs and lost tempers. MLS Next is going to have to re-think how they handle these situations going forward and young people need better education on the harm that these hurtful and despicable words can have on others. 

From a pure sporting perspective, the GA Cup has become my favorite showcase event for MLS academies. The group stage and knockouts are intense and the International competition brings new styles and higher levels of quality. It’s a very fun event to attend in person. 

The U15 age group was dominated by the International academies, with Valencia deservingly taking the Championship after a dominant performance from start to finish. 

The U17 age group saw a back to back champion in the Philadelphia Union. Their talent and style of play make them extremely difficult to beat in this competition. 
Neil Pierre, center-back for the Philadelphia Union U17 Championship team


MLS academies are behind, tactically

MLS academies always compete well against the talented International academies that attend the GA Cup. They have the advantage of being on home soil and having less travel, but their soccer plays a role as well. While the U.S. has caught up with the technical aspects of the game and we have always been on-par on the physical side of things, there is still a considerable gap on the tactical side. The majority of top level International academies were able to play a more expansive, fluid and instinctual style of soccer. Their movements were more considered, precise and their awareness of space and where each other were on the pitch was noticeably better. I am convinced this is the area where our coaching and development needs to focus on going forward. 

Agents + scouts galore, but not quite like Next Fest

While there was the typical bevy of scouts and agents at this event, they were not quite as overwhelming and obvious as it was at MLS Next Fest. I believe this is a sign that scouts and agents are doing their due diligence earlier on in the process and that tournaments later in the season are focused on emerging players. This event was more about reaffirming their beliefs and trying to get clients over the line. 

2009s playing up

The second half of the season is where we start to see emerging talents getting moved up age groups and this tournament offers a platform to showcase top talents. There were eight U15 eligible players, born in 2009, that earned the opportunity to play at the U17 level. That list includes: Ethan Degny (Atlanta/CB), Myles Gardner (Houston/WING/CF), Daniel Barrett (Houston/CB), Mattheo Dimareli (Houston/WING), Mathis Albert (LA Galaxy/WING), Cavan Sullivan (Philadelphia/AM), Adri Mehmeti (RBNY/DM), Omar Hassan (Seattle/WING). 

FC Cincinnati fluke or on the rise?

Of the five academies that made it through to the knockout rounds in both the U15 and U17 age group, FC Cincinnati was the biggest surprise. Both teams were knocked out in the Round of 16, but it’s clear that their talented identification and recruiting efforts are starting to pay dividends. They are lifting and looking under every pebble to improve their academy and if they keep their current team in place, they will be a top academy in the next few years. 

Sporting KC U17 backline

Sporting KCs U17s were another surprise team at the tournament. Their deep and talented backline group including Jack Kortkamp, Jacob Molinari, Ian James, Nate Young, Leo Christiano and Andrew Johnson were a big reason for their success. 

LAFC tournament drought continues

LAFC is always incredibly difficult to beat during the regular season, but seem to underachieve in these big tournaments. Both the U17 and U15 teams missed the knockout stage. 

RBNY take a stand

Unfortunately this tournament made headlines for disappointing reasons, racist remarks and physical altercations. While MLS Next struggled to take a hard stand, the New York Red Bulls did not. After accusations of racists remarks from Monterrey’s and Hajduk Split in back to back matches, the organization decided to remove both their U17 and U15 teams from the competition. The decision was made about an hour before RBNYs U15 team, a favorite in that age group, were set to take on Toulouse in the quarterfinals. 

Prince Forfor trending up

Columbus Crew paid $150,000 to Minnesota United for the homegrown rights to Prince Forfor in December of 2023. The average price for a player Forfor’s age has been around $50,000, so this deal turned some heads within MLS. Forfor is a 2009 born, left-footed winger that the Crew have been playing primarily at left wing-back. I watched his first competitive matches at MLS Next Fest in December and he looked rusty. He looked anything but rusty at The GA Cup. He was electric in the two games I watched and looks like another top player in an already very loaded 2009 class. USSF also liked what they saw and invited him to the U15 camp that is currently taking place in Florida. The Columbus Crew feel like they may have a player with Alphonso Davies type potential. 

Shaun Tsakiris

Tsakiris is a name that some might be familiar with. His son, Niko Tsakiris, plays for the San Jose Earthquakes and was U.S. U20 World Cup player. Shaun recently coached a U17 U.S. Soccer team camp and is the current head coach for LA Galaxy’s U17 team. He led that team to a MLS Cup title last year and just took this year’s U17 team to the GA Cup’s final, beating River Plate along the way. Many felt River were the strongest U17 team at the tournament. Tsakiris is starting to make a name for himself as an up and coming coaching star. I can’t imagine he will stay as the LA Galaxy U17 head coach beyond this season. It will be interesting to see where he ends up next year, whether that is with U.S. Soccer, LA Galaxy or elsewhere. 

Jamir Johnson

The headlines and commentary surrounding Philadelphia Union’s U17 team were understandably centered around Manchester City bound Cavan Sullivan, but he wasn’t the most impressive attacker for the U17 champions. In my opinion, that label belongs to Jamir Johnson (2008/Winger). The undersized but pacey and skilled attacker made some massive plays throughout the tournament as both a goal scorer and chance creator. 

Mathis Albert rumors

There was a lot of noise and attention surrounding Mathis Albert during this tournament. It’s been rumored that he will be leaving LA Galaxy soon, in fact the U17 Championship game may have been his last game for the club. According to a few sources, he has signed with CAA Stellar and is heading to Borussia Dortmund to continue his development. If true, he would join fellow United States eligible players Cole Campbell (2006), Tyler Meiser (2007) and Jack Mize (2008) at the academy. Albert is also the second player elevated from the USYNT 2009 group to the 2008 group, alongside Cavan Sullivan. 

Austyn Jones impressed U.S. Soccer

The Generation adidas Cup usually brings United States-eligible players from clubs abroad and this year was no different. The headline player that falls into this category was Austyn Jones, center-forward from PSV Eindhoven’s academy. He played for their U17 team and helped lead them to the semi-finals. USSF talent identification team members spent a lot of time scouting him and apparently liked what they saw. He was invited to the U.S. U16 camp being held in Florida this week but declined because of some school conflicts. He is expected to join a camp in the future.

Neil Pierre: U17 player of the tournament

From the U17 games that I watched, there was no more dominant U17 player throughout the tournament than Neil Pierre. Defensively, he really didn’t do much wrong. He was a one man wrecking crew in every game that I watched. His positioning, awareness, instincts, physicality and leadership were on display throughout the tournament. While he isn’t known for being an elite distributor, he made quick and sound decisions, finding ways to initiate transitions and break lines. His passing has improved enough to make him an elite center-back prospect and  his defensive abilities are about as good as you will see from a player his age. This should be the last U17 game he plays for Philadelphia. He’s ready to be permanently placed with their second team for the rest of this season. Pierre is not yet signed to a homegrown contract by Philadelphia, but I am sure negotiations are happening and they are doing what they can to retain his services. He doesn’t turn 18 until October of 2025, so he wouldn’t be able to move to Europe for some time. Given his defensive abilities and physical profile, he isn’t far away from being a viable option for Philadelphia’s first team. 

KK Spivey: U15 player of the tournament

At the U15 age level, KK Spivey was the top player that I watched. Spivey made big play after big play throughout the tournament and continued his dominance from the regular season. Spivey is a complete midfield prospect unlike any within the United States youth pool. He is a goal scorer and playmaker. He can progress the ball with his passing and dribbling. He disrupts defensively and can consistently win the ball back for his team and he has an elite physical profile for his age. He was ready to be promoted to the U17 level before this tournament and is now without a doubt ready. San Jose has been cautious with him, but I don’t see any reason to continue to play him at the U15 level from here on out. 

Let's Work Together

In need of scouting services? I got you. I have experience scouting for clubs and agents and writing reports for players.