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A look at the MLS Generation adidas candidates

Schillo Tshuma


The MLS Draft is fast approaching and Major League Soccer is already hard at work trying to put together a Generation adidas class that won’t have quite the star power of past groups.

The 2014 Generation adidas class doesn’t have the kind of high-profile attacking prospects of past drafts, and with MLS apparently looking to spend less money on the Generation adidas class in order to have more funds to spend on Homegrown players, we could see some top prospects pass on MLS offers to either stay in school or pursue options overseas.

With that being the case, we could see the 2014 Generation adidas class be the smallest in recent memory. One that does have some quality prospects at a variety of positions, but one lacking highly-regarded forwards of past GA classes.

One player not on the list for now is Indiana freshman sensation Tommy Thompson, who the San Jose Earthquakes have a Homegrown Player claim on. Sources tell SBI that Thompson is expected to return to Indiana for another season, which puts on hold the debate of whether the Earthquakes were actually going to be granted his Homegrown Player rights, or if he was going to be placed in the Generation adidas class. As things stand, it appears as though San Jose failed to make a good enough offer to entice Thompson to leave school early.

Here is a look at the top Generation adidas prospects for the 2014 MLS Draft:


1. CHRISTIAN DEAN, California, Centerback

The skilled left-footed centerback is the top prospect in the draft and top Generation adidas target. He’s expected to sign a deal and is the favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the 2014 MLS Draft.

2. LEO STOLZ, UCLA, Central Midfielder

The highly-skilled midfielder saw his stock rise dramatically in the second half of the season. The German-born midfielder isn’t a lock to leave school, and could very well stay in school if MLS doesn’t make a strong offer.

3. SCHILLO TSHUMA, Maryland, Forward

Coming off a disappointing sophomore season, and forgettable showing in the Final Four, but scouts still love him and believe he has more potential than Maryland teammate Patrick Mullins. A safe bet to be a Top Five pick if he leaves school.

4. ANDRE BLAKE, UConn, Goalkeeper

The best goalkeeper in the nation, Blake is a sure-fire first-round pick who is being targeted by several teams who see him as a long-term starting prospect. The Jamaican-born goalkeeper has the tools to be special, but is a few years away from being able to start.

5. A.J. COCHRAN, Wisconsin, Centerback

With Dean already expected to be in the class, Cochran isn’t a lock to secure a GA deal, but from a talent standpoint, Cochrane is arguably the player on this list most capable of helping a team right away. The U.S. Under-20 pool player is a strong centerback with good feet, though he isn’t as athletic as Dean.

6. MARLON HAIRSTON, Louisville, Midfielder

A young central midfielder with good skill and potential, Hairston is physically a few years away from being able to contribute on the next level, but teams love his upside. Considered a good bet to receive a GA offer, he could wind up being the last GA selected when draft time comes.

7. ERIC MILLER, Creighton, Defender

Injuries have plagued Miller’s career, but when healthy the U.S. Under-20 defender is versatile, skilled and steady. Right back seems his best position, but teams might have a look at him in a defensive midfield role. A good bet to be signed to a GA deal and go in the first half of the first round of the 2014 MLS Draft.

8. CYLE LARIN, UConn, Forward

A beast of  forward who would be higher on this list if he were expected to leave school. The UConn freshman combines size, strength and skill as a striker and could be the top GA target for the 2015 MLS Draft.

9. DYLAN MARES, Indiana, Midfielder

A good example of a player who probably shouldn’t have transferred, Mares moved from Louisville to Indiana and saw his stock drop as he failed to make the impact expected of him. A long-shot GA option at this point.

10.  GIUSEPPE GENTILE, Charlotte, Forward

Some teams rate him, but MLS doesn’t appear close to considering him for a GA offer. A strong senior year should have him be a top-rated senior for the 2015 MLS Draft.


What do you think of this group? Which player would you like to see your team take? Which of these prospects do you see having the best career?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. How long was Tommy Thompson a member for the San Jose Earthquakes academy? I did a quick search on the internet and it seems to me Tommy Thompson was a member this past spring before he entered IU. If that’s the case, I don’t think he meets the homegrown reqs. If MLS decides he does, then DC United should file a homegrown claim for Tschuma.

  2. Ives – any word on Omar Holness (UNC) as a potential GA player? keeps including him on its GA short lists for its SuperDraft articles and mock drafts. Otherwise, the GA group seems to be focused on Dean, Stolz, Blake, Hairston, Miller and perhaps Cochran as well as Tshuma – Larin would be the sleeper in the mix. It is not shaping up to be one of the better GA classes but MLS academy players becoming HG players is having an effect.

  3. Yeah, Hairston is a beast. I was suuuuuuuper bummed he didn’t get any playing time with the U-20s this summer (though I was glad for the call up).

  4. I wonder if the lessening of the GA contracts has anything to do with the conception of a dying college sport. With the acadmies getting sronger theres more and more players that are available and may be just as ready at 18 as a 20 year old college kid. Instead of giving money to these college kids who havent gone through the academies they are in essence turning there back on some homegrown players. If they start to shun the college players, it pushes the good ones to stay in the academy, makes the acadamies stronger, and pushes them to the next level. I could see in a couple years college players for the most part going to NASL or USL except for late bloomers.

    • This is a pretty elaborate theory, but no. MLS let spending get out of control on GA deals and started pulling back a year ago. It’s not about college soccer “dying” but about the league needing more money to sign Homegrown players. This whole “college soccer is dying” thing is pretty funny because while there are fewer blue-chippers ending up in the college game I would argue college soccer is producing more pro-level players than ever before.

      Your dream of MLS teams being made up strictly of academy products is a pipe dream. Won’t be the case any time soon. MLS academies simply aren’t producing that much talent, and a lot of the HG talent coming out is coming to the league having been seasoned by years in college.

      • I agree with Ives on this. Look at MLS in the early days. Talent level was a lot lower. But you didn’t draft attacking talent out of college and expect it to start. Now that’s not inconceivable. Guys like Zakuani or Nagbe come out of college and are major contributors. College talent has gotten better and its gotten deeper (i.e.: there is more of it).

    • There are plenty of academy players in NCAA as well and nothing stopping a NCAA made up of just as many draft picks as HGP’s.

      Some guys are ready to play pro at 18-20 others are ready at 21-22. Personally i hope the college game keeps growing and refining.

      • the college game will only get stronger. My guess is that it becomes more international and European players will start to see it as an option if they don’t get signed by their clubs. It’ll turn into Europe’s second chance

    • And what about a kid growing up in Iowa, or Minnesota? Or Boise? Or miami? Or phoenix? Or heck, Atlanta, Nashville, cincinatti, shall I go on? This country is too big for academies to cover the talent. Way too big, until MLS is at 40 teams. Remember, there are over thirty professional teams in London. That’s 30 clubs for 20 million people. You expect even a 24 team MLS to cover a 330 million person America? (Let’s add what, 50 for Canada?)

  5. Would be cool to see a list on Home Grown Players too. It seems like the list would be just as lengthy and more and more relevant.

  6. I have another question as well about what you’ve written — ” MLS apparently looking to spend less money on the Generation adidas class in order to have more funds to spend on Homegrown players”

    These are two different funding sources, no? Teams are responsible for paying Homegrown players, whereas GA kids get $$ from a fund the league has set up with Adidas, no?

    I thought the league was drawing the line on GA costs to try and force kids to take Homegrown deals, rather than going to college and trying to get eh league to offer them more money through GA. Nothing to do with shifting funds available for one or the other, but rather trying to undercut leverage that the top prospects were getting by skipping paltry Homegrown offers,

    • I ask because it would be great to see more money being made available for Homegrowns. The league is losing too many of the best prospects to European clubs.

      • That is the plan Ed. MLS wants to make more money available to Homegrowns, and part of accomplishing that is bringing down salaries being paid to Generation adidas players, salaries which got out of control a bit.

        As for the league losing many of the best prospects to Europe, no subtle changes in fund structure is going to stop that. Who are these “best prospects” you speak of that passed on MLS because the offer wasn’t enough?

      • There was concern that Paul Arriola fell into this category. Don’t know if it is true. Haji Wright could be another who could fall into this category if rumors are true. My guess is that those kind of players actually aren’t pushing for money in the first contract; rather, they just are lured by the higher prestige elsewhere. In Arriola’s case, Tijuana is actually closer to his parent’s home in San Diego, where he still lives, than the Galaxy training site in Carson.

      • These are reaches and assumptions. As you noted, Arriola was a San Diego kid who signed with a strong Mexican club a few minutes from his house. He was never really an LA Galaxy academy kid, so no, MLS lowballing wasn’t wny Arriola went to Tijuana. As for Haji Wright, he’s a kid who appears to want to just go to the highest bidder, and MLS isn’t at a point where it’s going to be overpaying for teenagers who are years away from contributing.

      • But, that’s the point, no? Overpaying? Lots of Americans — sometimes it seems almost everyone who can — are going into foreign academies because they can get !) a contract and 2) more money than they’d ever get at MLS.

        MLS is tying to make offers only to kids who are ready. I think United may regret that they felt pressured to offer Shanosky a pretty good contract just to compete with foreign clubs. I’m not sure we’ll see that again….which will mean that more kids will go abroad. It’s not whether they’re spurning low offers from MLS — it’s that they’re moving without even waiting for those lowball offers.

        Since United is my frame of reference. THey were negotiation back in the day with Hamid and Samir Badr. All the evidence is that United signed Hamid because he didn’t get a great offer abroad, while Badr did. United might have gotten lucky there., but at the time it seemed they lost the better prospect.

      • RIght — Arriola’s name is the one that springs to mind immediately. There are others, in virtually every Academy I imagine, who have left for Europe. The Gals also lost Mario Rodriguez. The Revs lost Felix DeBona and Daniel Tchen. DC United has lost some, most recently Romain Gall and Arie Amman. I’m sure the list is fairly long, actually.

      • Players have gone to Europe/Mexico from MLS academies, but that’s not going to stop because MLS increases contract offers by a few thousand. That’s just not reality. MLS isn’t in a position to compete financially with Europe or Mexico and it’s up to players to decide what they want to do, take the money abroad or go for what might be a more stable development system in MLS. Any blaming of that player exodus on money spent on college players is just plain silly.

      • I didn’t do that. I was just suggesting that if the Academies are going to provide the player pipeline that MLS wants, the system is going to have to look more like the Euro model, with full-fledged reserve teams populated by players who are being paid at least decent money.

      • Again, that’s a dream scenario that isn’t happening any time soon, so why keep going back to that as if it has anything to do with the reality we’re living in? Obviously it would be great if MLS teams invested millions in each team academy, but that’s not happening, so why waste breathe stating the obvious? My life would be better with a few million in my bank account but I don’t need to keep bringing that up every day as if that’ll change a thing.

    • Ed, If you want tutorials on how MLS operates let me know and I’ll set up a payment plan for you. Let this be the last free lesson. Homegrown Players are NOT just paid for by clubs. There is also sponsorship money involved (adidas money) used to help sign Homegrown Players and MLS pays all salaries so any notion that teams would be solely responsible for HG player salaries doesn’t really make sense.

      There is a pot of money that is used for both GA deals and for funding HG deals.

      Here’s a simple question for you. Ever seen a Homegrown Player not wear adidas footwear? That’s not a coincidence.

      • Now, I think you are breaking some news…..That’s the first I’ve heard of it, and it’s very interesting. Thanks for the free info.

      • Ed, just because YOU didn’t know something doesn’t make it breaking news. I know that may be a shock to you 😉

        Kidding aside, a lot of things that exist in MLS have never been stated or announced, but can be noticed if people just pay attention.

      • Fagundez is on a new contract now. When he first came into the league he wore adidas, right up to when he signed the new deal.

      • Good stuff, i will have to keep an eye on the cleats!

        Personally i hate adidas cleats, guess i wont be getting a deal anytime soon!

  7. “is the favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the 2014 MLS Draft”

    That’s breaking some news. Where are you getting that? Most prognosticators — including MLS’ own mock draft, have United taking Mullins. You got some inside scuttlebutt, or are you just supposing that the EJ trade and Espindola picks take United out of the running for a striker?

    • Ed, if you have read my site for a while, which I know you have, you should know my draft projections are generally the best around. You can believe them or not, but I would suggest you watch what happens and then maybe you’ll realize there are folks you should listen to regarding this stuff, and folks you shouldn’t listen to.

      And no, this isn’t breaking news. I put out an MLS Draft Big Board a few weeks ago and Dean was at the top of that list as well. Mullins wasn’t in the Top three, and won’t be when the new one comes out either.

    • I think the general fan assumption that Mullins would go first is lazy, based on not having seen the GenAd class yet.

      The last non-Gen Ad/Project 40 player to go first in the draft was Chris Gbandi a dozen years ago. And even he only went to college for 3 years and did not turn 22 until just after his rookie season started.

      Mullins, if he went first, would be the first 22 year old player at season opening to get drafted #1 since Steve Shak in 2000.

      • Yep, you’ve got it Stan, and what’s making it worse this time around is that it’s not just fans, but ill-informed “experts” pushing completely misguided notions about the draft.

    • I like Mullins but I see him and think of Jason Garey and Casey Townsend–both fine U.Md strikers (and Garey was also a senior). Sasho Cirovski compared Mullins to Garey. So I’m always bit leery of college senior strikers–perhaps unfairly. I actually think that Dean is a better fit for DCU.

      • Both Garey and Mullins are from my home state of LA. I wish we could put out better products than former Hermann trophy winners who go on to have mediocre pro careers.

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