After a hiatus due to the pandemic, the Generations Adidas Cup returned with U-15 and U-17 teams from around the world competing for the top spot. Atlanta United sent two talented squads to Texas who did not receive the same fanfare as other academies due to a perceived lack of individual star power but the Five Stripes were often some of the deepest and best-drilled squads in the tournament.
The U-17s played decently well, advancing from the group stage with a win over FC Cincinnati and draws against New England and Celtic of the Scottish Premier League. Overall, the U-17s failed to muster much of an offensive threat, losing in the first round of the play-offs to a top-4 Inter Miami CF team by a score of 2-1. Luke Brennan, now a regular with Atlanta United 2, continued to show promise as a potential future professional for Atlanta United with his consistently strong performances.
The U-15s had a much more impressive tournament with wins over FC Porto, Philadelphia Union, Rayados and Tigres of Liga MX, and a draw against Portland before losing in the semi-finals to Valencia. The entire U-15 side looked impressive and showed their versatility with the front three and midfield constantly throwing new looks and new pressure at opponents. The defense remained stout and rising star goalkeeper Jonathan Ransom looked the part.
The player that stood out from this impressive group of youngsters was centerback-turned-midfielder Adyn Torres. Torres was an absolute menace for the U-15s, doing well as a holding midfielder but also showing his quality as a box-to-box presence getting upfield to facilitate the attack and offering himself as a scoring threat. He was greatly missed in the team’s only loss against Valencia with yellow card accumulation keeping him on the sidelines. Torres’s impressive performance earned him Best IX honors on a team made up of the top U-15 and U-17 players from the tournament.
Adyn Torres, Atlanta United U-15
Atlanta’s run to the semifinals was about the team making the most of transition moments, getting forward before the opposition was set. Torres ensured his side could throw numbers forward, on a regular basis, as he helped lock the spine down and offer an outlet in buildup play. He was one of the top U-15 players on display.
Torres’s teammates, Ashton Gordon (F) and Rocket Ritarita (AM) were named to the Honorable Mentions of the tournament’s Best IX. Gordon was a quick and tireless presence who kept opposing defenses uncomfortable for the entire time he was on the pitch. When he wasn’t haranguing them with a tenacious press, he was teasing them with line-splitting runs at every turnover. Ritarita showed a great deal of quality as a future #10 similar to the quality we have seen from Jonantan Villal. Like Villal and Tyler Wolff, he can play as both a wide forward and an attacking midfielder capable of creating his own shots and feeding his teammates.
Congratulations to Adyn, Ashton, and Rocket for this recognition, and congratulations to their teammates and coaches for their impressive performances against high-quality opponents.
Recordings of some of the Generation Adidas playoff matches are still available online so do yourself a favor and enjoy seeing some of the future of Atlanta United and American soccer in action.