MLS NEXT Fest: Most exciting youth players to watch


The MLS NEXT Fest event kicks off this week on December 2.

Set to feature Under-13 through Under-19 teams, the event will kick off with Generation adidas Cup placement matches on Friday between MLS academy squads at the U-15 and U-17 age groups. Showcase matches will take place at every age group as well between the rest of the teams in MLS NEXT.

Here are some of the players to know that are set to compete in California.


Luca Moisa, Real Salt Lake

RSL have been excellent in league play so far, with 11 wins from 12 games heading into MLS NEXT Fest. Moisa tends to play in the central midfield and already has made a couple of appearances with the U.S. Under-15 setup, where he stands out as a quality player in the middle of the park.

Aidan Stokes, New York Red Bulls

One of the best goalkeepers in the age group, Stokes has all the makings of a top-level shot-stopper. Of course, he has a long way to go with his development but he’ll be a key player in New York’s aspirations of competing at the U-15 age group.

Jude Terry, Los Angeles FC

A tidy and technical central midfielder, Terry’s ability on the ball helps him compete and play up as a 2008 with the 2007s. He’s set to compete for LAFC in the U-15 age group, which will be hugely beneficial to the team’s chances of excelling at the Generation adidas Cup.

Robert Jacobs, Strikers FC

Jacobs is just one of a handful of talented players for the California side. He has all the tricks to take on defenders and get behind to score goals. With 13 in 14 games this fall, he’ll attract plenty of attention in the Showcase games from opposing defenders.

Maximos Crisafinis, TSF Academy (Best Of Selection)

Regularly a left back for the New Jersey club, Crisafinis has impressed U.S. Soccer scouts already, as he was part of a U-15 national team camp earlier this year. This week will be a big opportunity for him to compete against teams from around the country and in front of other scouts.


Connor Owen, Breakers FC

The talented left back anchors a very good Breakers FC team. The Northern California team has an impressive 11W-1L-1D record in MLS NEXT games. Owen has shown the ability to be a classic, modern outside back, able to contribute on both sides of the ball on a team that is excellent with possession.

Michael Cortellessa, FC Dallas

Versatile and talented, Cortellessa’s seen time at this age group at outside back. He can also play either wing when needed, and is part of an FCD team that hasn’t lost in the fall. Caleb Swann, Christopher Salazar, Luke Munson, Caua Scabin and Bryce Outman are other names to know.

Quentin Christey, Toronto FC

A talented box-to-box midfielder, Christey has shown the ability to take over games against his peers. He helps to set things up for one of the most talented 2007 squads in MLS NEXT, one that has a 9-2 record heading into the showcase games.

Owangya Medard, KSA (Best Of Selection)

Medard and his club side have been involved in several wild, high-scoring games this fall. The forward’s goal-scoring record in MLS NEXT games is remarkable, with 22 goals from just 11 games.

Roger Salgado, Weston FC (Best Of Selection)

The Florida squad travels to Southern California undefeated in MLS NEXT play, winning six and drawing three against high level competition. Salgado plays through the middle, helping propel Weston forward. Mateo Garcia Piekut has six goals in those nine games, while center back Jake Reich anchors the back line.


Jack Brown, PA Classics

The left-footed attacking midfielder has four goals and eight assists for Classics this season and is an entertaining player to watch. Competing in showcase games, Classics will look to find success in California with Brown pulling the strings, along with teammates Nate Hovan and Liam Penny.

Cole Mrowka, Columbus Crew

Another creative and crafty attacking player, Mrowka joined the Crew Academy this summer from Sockers FC. He’s continued to provide a goal-threat for the Crew, scoring 10 times and adding five assists. A strong contender to play for Crew 2 in MLS NEXT PRO in 2023, he’s one of several strong players for the Crew U-17s.

Nimfasha Berchimas, Charlotte FC

A recent Homegrown signing by Charlotte, Berchimas still has plenty of development ahead of him. He’s an exciting talent, where he’s unplayable at times in wide areas – this despite the fact he is playing up two years with the Under-17 squad.

Andrew Craig, Philadelphia Union

The Union’s record at this age group is impressive, with eight wins and two losses heading into the Generation adidas Cup. It’s a big chance for this team to make a run at winning the competition. Navigating these games is the first challenge, and Craig’s ability to compete playing up from his center back spot will be crucial.

Sean Petrie, Barca Academy (Best Of Selection)

Based in Arizona, the Barca Academy has continued to serve as a platform for players to reach either pro or college opportunities. Petrie operates as a central midfielder that can make contributions on both sides of the ball. He’s technical and talented, helping Barca excel at this age group.


Kenny Quist-Therson, Baltimore Armour

A box-to-box midfielder from the prominent Maryland club, Quist-Therson adds goals and connects play well from center spaces. Quist-Therson is set to play at the University of Maryland next fall.

Marcos Moore, Rise Soccer Club

Another top striker in his age group, Moore is a big No. 9 that has six goals in 10 games. An opening game against Shattuck St. Mary’s will provide a significant test against soon-to-be college peers. Moore is set to play at St. Louis University starting next year.

Tyler Flowers, New England Revolution

The New England side obviously looks different after winning the U19 MLS NEXT Cup this past summer. Along with his twin brother Bryce, the center mid offers two-way creativity has been a regular starter and will look to form the spine for New England out in California.

Ryder Mills, FC Cincinnati

FCC's oldest age group is prolific in the final third. Mills, who is slated to play at Yale starting next year, is one of the team’s top scorers with 11 tallies in 12 games. He’ll look to help fire the Ohio team to some success in California.

Mikah Thomas, Jacksonville FC (Best Of Selection)

A left back from Florida, Thomas offers a physical presence from wide areas and he’s as comfortable going forward as he is defending.