You may have noticed recently that our U17 and U20 teams had been playing matches ahead of time; the reason for that is that the Tigres youth sides were participating in two international tournaments over the past two weeks. A U17 side entered the Generation Adidas Cup, while a U19 side was aiming for glory in the Dallas Cup. How did our youngsters fair against the other top academies across not only CONCACAF but the entire globe?
U17: Generation Adidas Cup
The GA Cup is “Major League Soccer’s annual elite youth tournament for U-17 academy teams.” What that means is that our youngsters were playing primarily against their northern neighbors, but teams from Costa Rica, Brazil, Spain, Germany, as well as other teams from Mexico all participated. Tigres were playing in the Premier division, which confusingly is actually the second tier of the competition. Drawn into Group D against Houston, DC United, and the Portland Timbers, Tigres had to deal exclusively with MLS sides during the opening weekend.
The competition started off strong with a 2-0 victory over Portland, with goals from Patrick Ogama (who continues to ride his hot streak) and Miguel Rodríguez. Highlights from the game can be found here:
Two days later, they followed up with another victory, this time 2-1 over the Houston Dynamo. It was Adrian Garza who was the hero this time, with two goals to carry Los Felinos to the top of the group.
In the final game of the group stage, our boys fell 2-1 to DC United, but fortunately still finished atop the group and advanced to the semi-finals. Erick Monsivais scored in the 16th minute to put Tigres ahead, but DC struck back only a minute later. They would go on to win the match, but it was Tigres who continued on in the tournament, finishing the group just barely ahead of Houston.
In the semi-finals, Tigres met more MLS opposition, namely the Philadelphia Union. Tigres looked excellent, dismantling the Union in the first half to take a 2-0 lead. Miguel Rodríguez scored both goals, bringing his total up to a team-high three goals in the tournament. Tigres saw out the match in the second half, and marched into the final.
Perhaps not a shock to anyone at this point, but in the Premier Division final Tigres met more MLS opposition. New York City FC made their way to the finals convincingly, having not surrendered a single goal up to this point. Sadly for Tigres, it was more of the same in the finals, as NYCFC snuck out a 1-0 win in extra time to take home the title. Overall, this was a fantastic showing from this Tigres team, which featured players primarily from the U17 and Tercera Divison squads. To come within a few minutes of winning a big tournament like this shows the progress that our academy has made in recent years.
U19: Dallas Cup
The Dallas Cup is probably a bit better known than the GA Cup, and Tigres got the chance to play a much more diverse cast of teams compared to their U17 counterparts. In Group C, Tigres faced off with Red Bull Brazil, Eintracht Frankfurt, and Toronto FC.
The first game of the tournament against Frankfurt was a pretty big deal by Fuerzas Basicas standards. Played at the 92000 capacity Cotton Bowl stadium, this was a rare chance for our highest level prospects to match up with quality European competition; and Tigres did not back down. Luciano Augusto, the young man from Argentina, scored two goals, one in each half, to bring down the Germans and launch Tigres into a commanding position in Group C.
The second game was an exciting 2-2 draw against Red Bull Brazil, with goals from Juan Sánchez Purata and Luis Bonilla. Bonilla, who just recently came to Mexico from his native Colombia, scored his very first goal in a Tigres shirt.
In a must win third match, Tigres squared off with Toronto FC. Just three minutes into the match, Bonilla buried home the opening goal. They carried a 1-0 lead into halftime, in line for a trip to the semi-finals. In the 63rd minute, Cruz Leal doubled the Tigres lead, securing passage to the knockout stage.
The semi-finals of the Dallas Cup was a massive game, because Tigres’ opponents were none other than Rayados de Monterrey. Already a huge match because of the win or go home circumstances, the tension only increases against our bitter rivals. Even further adding intrigue to the match was the fact that Rayados and Tigres are currently in 1st and 2nd respectively in the Sub20 Liga MX. Truly, we were in store for a matchup between the two best non-senior teams in all of Mexico. Tigres struck first in the 19th minute, when Cruz Leal set up Luciano Augusto for a fantastic team goal. Monterrey equalized after a 33rd minute header, and the game remained tied for the rest of the first half. In the 82nd minute, Misael Dominguez of Monterrey scored a fine goal to give them the victory and a place in the finals.
This was a successful Dallas Cup performance for Tigres, highlighted by a win over Eintracht Frankfurt. In particular, the foreigners Augusto and Bonilla played incredibly well, and combined for 5 of the team’s 7 goals.
(Images Courtesy of TigresOficial Fuerzas Basicas, Generation Adidas Cup, and The Dallas Cup)