The Generation adidas Cup has quickly evolved into the biggest gauge of how MLS academies stack up to the rest of the world.
With the format changing a few years back to a sort of global invitational, held in conjunction with Dallas Cup, MLS sides that secure spots in the higher level get two matches against high-level international academy sides.
The 2018 edition is no different, as some of the biggest names in the global game make the trip to North Texas for this year’s Generation adidas Cup.
Since 2014, when international sides first arrived in the competition, no MLS team has claimed the Champions Division Crown. NYCFC did triumph in the 2017 Premier Division. And while the experience isn’t about the final score, the fact that River Plate – who will take part in this year’s edition, situated in Group A – has won the event three years running is a sign of how overseas academies have dominated the event.
Eight teams are chasing a first-ever Champions Division title for an MLS side. With MLS streaming several of the matches, here are six to watch from the group stages (all times listed EST, and links will be added when available).
Sporting KC vs. Real Madrid, Friday, March 23, 7:15 p.m. (Stream)
Curious how a player like Gianluca Busio might look next to Real Madrid’s up-and-comers? That’s one of many reasons to catch this clash between SKC’s U17s and the La Liga outfit. Given Spain’s ability to churn out talent at the youth level, this matchup is going to be an interesting clash of teams from two very different parts of the world.
NYCFC vs. Real Madrid, Sunday, March 25, 5:45 p.m.
Perhaps a bit lazy to lump together another matchup involving the Spanish side, but like watching Busio against youngsters from the La Liga power, it will be a similar exercise to catch Giovanni Reyna, Justin Haak and Joseph Scallly against high-level opposition. NYCFC is sure to be one of the MLS sides that like its chances to come away with silverware, meaning the result should also be critical.
FC Dallas vs. Pachuca, Sunday, March 25, 7:15 p.m.
Can’t overlook any Liga MX vs. MLS matches, and given that they are hosting, expectations will be high against for FC Dallas. FCD gets Monaco in the group opener, and with a positive result, can set themselves up for a run at first place with a result in this clash. Dante Sealy trends a bit younger, having been born in 2003, so how he can adjust and establish himself against top opposition is reason enough to watch this.
MLS technical staff can only hope that the Galaxy-FC Dallas match on Tuesday is a Group D decider. Of course, both teams need to do their part ahead of that finale, including this LA meeting with Monaco. Efrain Alvarez, another 2002 that’s signed a homegrown deal, should be on the field for this one, even if Ulysses Llanez will miss out due to U.S. U20 MNT obligations.
Atlanta United vs. Flamengo, Monday, March 26, 3:30 p.m. (Stream)
After tearing through MLS opponents in the Eastern Division, seeing how United fares against international teams is going to be another storyline. Sitting in Group B, George Bello is a name that comes up, and if Deedson Vixamar is on the field for Atlanta, and not competing at Dallas Cup, is someone that can create problems on the left flank. As the final game in the group, both teams will hope that they are alive for a first-place finish in the group in order to advance.
Toronto FC vs. River Plate, Monday, March 26, 7:15 p.m. (Stream)
Could this final game in Group A be the decider? As noted, River Plate has won the competition three years running, and the Argentinian side is likely to be hungry again to accomplish it. Depending on how Friday and Sunday games go, TFC and River Plate could be tussling with first place on the line. The Canadian side picked up a win against FC Dallas in the qualifying games and will look to back up its credentials in this group.