After a strong 2-1-0 showing in Atlanta for the Presidents' Day Weekend portion of the Generation adidas Cup, the D.C. United Academy U-17 team participated in the final round of the competition in Frisco, Texas, last week, taking on some of the country and the world's top youth teams. While the 17s didn't finish the final round with as many points as they would've liked, the Black-and-Red picked up invaluable experience by competing against such top-tier opponents.
The Generations adidas cup is one of the most prestigious tournaments for youth soccer around the world, focusing on youth development and spring boarding some of the country's top youth prospects to the next levels of their careers. In the Champions Division of the final round of competition, United's 17s matched up with Group A foes Toronto FC, Eintracht Frankfurt, and the three-time defending tournament champions River Plate.
In their first fixture, D.C. United fell to the fabled Argentinian side River Plate 1-0. The lone goal was scored by River Plate's Lucas Beltrán. Despite the loss, the team produced an impressive performance, holding the defending champions to just one goal and staying tight with the Argentinians for the entirety of the match.
The 17s would regroup and ready themselves for the club's second test against fellow MLS academy side Toronto FC on March 25. Toronto's Theo Corbeanu bagged a brace to solidify a 2-0 victory for the Canadian side in United's second group match.
In their third matchday on March 26, United were determined to recover from two straight losses and end their group stage campaign on a high note against Germany's Eintracht Frankfurt. While both teams were held scoreless through regulation, the Black-and-Red took down the Germans in penalty kicks 4-2 thanks to two major saves from goalkeeper Dane Jacomen. The draw and the PK victory gave United two points in Group A.
United fell 1-0 to the Portland Timbers in round one of the playoffs and 4-1 to the LA Galaxy in round two. While they were disappointed to not have as strong of showings as they had in the earlier portion of the tournament, the Black-And-Red gave an inspiring defensive effort in the final round against some of the sport's top youth teams.
Throughout their group stage matchups against River Plate, Toronto FC, and Eintracht Frankfurt, the United defense always kept their squad within striking distance, allowing just three goals in three fixtures, an impressive feat against such a dangerous lineup of opponents. The other fourth-place group stage teams were the LA Galaxy, the Portland Timbers, and Sporting Kansas City—the Galaxy allowed six goals in Group D, Sporting Kansas City allowed four goals in Group C, and the Portland Timbers allowed 12 goals in Group B.
Now back in the District, the 17s will look to reflect on their experiences in the final round of the tournament and grow from them. Qualifying for the Generations adidas Cup Finals is an accomplishment in and of itself, and the Black-and-Red will use the accomplishment as further motivation moving forward as they continue to push ahead in their pursuit in becoming the next generation of talent in the American soccer pipeline.