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2024 Generation Adidas Cup Rising XI: Who could become an MLS star?

April 3, 2024, by Travis Clark | Courtesy of www.mlssoccer.com



Several stars from the 2023 Generation adidas Cup have already made strides just a year out.


Julian Hall’s performance helped him earn a homegrown contract with the New York Red Bulls, then make his MLS debut later that year. Columbus Crew midfielder Taha Habroune shined with the United States U-17s, later inking a homegrown deal. The list goes on.


Ahead of the 2024 edition, which runs from March 30 to April 7, who could be next? For those in the 2024 Generation adidas Cup Rising XI by BODYARMOR, this week is a chance to make an impression.


Tune in to find out as select games, including championship matches in both age groups, will be broadcast on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV.




Goalkeeper


James Donaldson, Atlanta United

Part of the US youth national team setup for the 2009 cohort, Donaldson has shown the promise of a modern, high-level goalkeeper. He’s tall enough to dominate the penalty area and has the athleticism to make an array of stops. Good with the ball at his feet, a big performance would help boost Atlanta’s chances of winning the U-15 age group.


Defenders


Miguel Alvarado, Colorado Rapids

Making a second straight appearance at the Generation adidas Cup, Alvarado is a left-footed defender who primarily plays left back. However, his on-ball ability and tactical awareness are at a level where he can appear just about anywhere on the field and make an impact. After last year’s competition, he earned a spot on the US U-15 side that won last summer’s Concacaf Championship in August. That ample experience will come in handy as he looks to contribute on a deep run for Colorado’s U-17s.


Gavin Wolff, Austin FC

The third of Austin FC head coach Josh Wolff's sons looking to make it in MLS, the center back heads to Florida for the second year in a row. Now anchoring the backline of Austin’s U-17 squad, he helped his club win the U-15 age group last year. Wolff was also named to the MLSsoccer.com Best XI following the event. Sure-footed and clean with the ball, he’s playing up a year and impressing.


Pedro Guimaraes, LAFC

Another Generation adidas Cup returnee and member of the US U-15 Concacaf Championship-winning squad, Guimaraes is a left back prospect for the LAFC U-17s. They’re one of the sides that will fancy their chances of competing for the tournament title in this age group. Guimaraes’ ability to impact both sides of the ball will be key in helping his team progress deep into the competition.


Midfielders


Christopher "Steel" Cook, FC Dallas

Cook wears the No. 10 shirt for the FC Dallas U-15s, and his role on the team reflects that moniker. He can drop in and connect play, erase players off the dribble and finish chances just about as well as he can create them. At times he plays in a false No. 9 role, but can feature on either wing or in central midfield. The US Soccer Federation has taken notice, as he traveled to Europe at the end of 2023 to compete with the U-15 national team.


Adri Mehmeti, New York Red Bulls

New York’s 2009 age group has already shown real promise. This week now offers Mehmeti a chance to double down and make a push to win the U-17 crown. In the Red Bulls' press-intensive style of play, Mehmeti looks to win the ball and connect play from his central midfield spot. He tends to sit deep in more of a holding role, protecting the defense and his team in transition moments. Mehmeti’s been a regular with the US youth setup, as he was part of the U-15 trip to Europe last fall.


Omar Hassan, Seattle Sounders FC

Another player who’s been a regular in the US national team cycle for the 2009 age group, Hassan is among the most dangerous wingers in the country. Able to take players on with the ball at his feet, this week is a big opportunity for him to make a mark on the competition – and give the Sounders U-17s a chance to win it all.


Cavan Sullivan, Philadelphia Union

After a star turn playing up at last year’s Generation adidas Cup (Sullivan joined Wolff in the 2023 Best XI), Sullivan has been among the top MLS NEXT players in the U-17 age group. That’s not too shabby considering he faces opponents two years older than him.

While he’s still very young (Sullivan turns 15 in August), his success against older opponents bodes well for his future, given the reported interest from some of Europe's top clubs. A creative and crafty player who can impact the game through the middle or out wide, the US youth international offers a connective outlet in the buildup and is a good finisher in dangerous spots. While Philadelphia’s U-17 team skews a bit young, the talent is there for them to win it all.


Forwards


Chase Adams, Columbus Crew

A willing presser up front who can finish in a variety of ways, Adams is a hard-running No. 9 who will look to get into space and score goals. He’s another talented player heading to the competition for the second year in a row, this time as part of the Crew's U-17 squad. Like many of his peers, the 2023 edition was a massive springboard for him. The Crew academy standout ended the summer as part of the US Concacaf Championship-winning side and even started this season's MLS NEXT Pro opener for Crew 2.


Mathis Albert, LA Galaxy

Few players in MLS NEXT dazzle on the ball like Albert does. The LA Galaxy U-17 winger repeatedly can get past multiple defenders off the dribble, pulling apart defenses to either score goals or create for others. He spent part of the preseason with Ventura County FC and has several US youth national team call-ups under his belt.


Zidane Yañez, New York City FC

Signed as a homegrown player in December 2023, Yañez is slated to compete at the Generation adidas Cup with New York City FC’s U-17 squad. A more classic No. 9, Yañez is a technical player who connects play extremely well and typically displays excellent movement. The forward has been in camp with both the US and Chilean youth national teams and will look to make a big impression in Florida.


Travis Clark - @travismclark


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