New York City Football Club's Under-17s and Under-15s competed in the Generation Adidas Cup last week in Florida.
The annual tournament saw MLS Academy squads and top international teams lock horns at IMG Academy - a record 49 different clubs from 12 countries and four continents.
With the opportunity to face some of the world's most exciting young talent, the competition provides valuable experience in Academy player development, as one of the most useful and enjoyed contests of the youth calendar.
Relishing the challenge, NYCFC's U17s reached the quarter-final stage, having finished top of Group 7 with an impressive showing, while our U15s tested themselves against Club Bolívar, San Jose Earthquakes and Colorado Rapids in Group 8.
José Jiménez's side defeated Atlanta United, Pumas UNAM and Austin FC in the group stage - the latter on penalties - to earn a notable eight points, setting up a Round of 16 clash with Orlando City SC.
A third 1-0 victory of the tournament secured progression to the last eight, where the City Boys were unfortunately edged out with a narrow loss at the hands of Columbus Crew.
While the City Boys just missed out on the semi-finals they did produce some impressive showings to earn a place in the knockout stages.
Meanwhile, City's U15s took each of their opponents to penalties, having drawn all three group stage fixtures in normal time.
Michael Dal Pra's side drew 2-2 with the Earthquakes, and 1-1 with both Bolívar and Colorado. Though the Boys in Blue defeated the Rapids 4-3 on penalties to clinch a bonus point, they fell to Bolívar and the Earthquakes on spot-kicks, finishing in third-place finish in Group 8.
Though it was not enough to advance to the knockout stages, the youngsters gained more useful gametime with Showcase fixtures, facing FC Nordsjælland, Vancouver Whitecaps FC and FC Dallas in Group C, defeating the Hoops 8-7 on penalties after a thrilling 3-3 draw.
Reflecting on the competition, Academy Director Morten Grahn spoke of the positive experience and impact GA Cup has on City's young players.
"The GA Cup is a brilliant event, and MLS Next has done a fantastic job building an elite competition with teams from across the globe," he said.
"For us, the tournament is always one of the high points of our season. It is a long trip with many games, requiring a lot of hard work from our staff and players.
"It is a tournament where we get good answers on our environment and talent pool and the players can test themselves at the highest level.
"The opportunity to play different clubs and against different styles, broadcast live on AppleTV, has significant benefits for our young players. Living as a professional 24/7 in 11 days has a massive impact on our players' growth and development, and we value these experiences enormously."
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