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New York Red Bulls U-17s beat Tijuana, 5-0, and qualify for semifinals of 2017 Generation Adidas Cup

The RBNY U-17s have a big game ahead.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Generation Adidas Cup is a U-17 tournament organized by MLS as a showpiece for its academy programs. Dating back to 2007, it's a competition the New York Red Bulls have never won - which does not appear to have prevented the club from having one of the more highly-regarded academies in MLS.

Nonetheless, it an opportunity for young players in their respective academy pipelines to shine. And MLS is excited about the competition this year, providing live streams and recaps on its official website.

The tournament's group stage concluded on Tuesday, April 11. Sixteen teams were divided into four groups of four in the "Champions Division" (i.e. the GA Cup; there is a "Premier Division", which is essentially a consolation prize for those who didn't make the cut for the Cup). The 16 teams are the top eight MLS squads to emerge from qualifying and the academy teams of eight clubs invited to participate from around the world.

RBNY qualified for the Champions Division this year, and was in a group with Toronto FC, Argentina's Estudiantes de la Plata, and Liga MX's Tijuana. RBNY dropped its opening game to Estudiantes, 3-1, but bounced back to beat Toronto, 4-1. Unfortunately, with only one team qualifying for the semifinals, it seemed the Red Bulls would be bowing out at the group stage: after two rounds of games, TFC had lost both its matches, and RBNY needed to win its last game and see Toronto beat Estudiantes to make the semifinals.

The Red Bulls trounced Tijuana, 5-0, in their last game of the group stage, but it seemed unlikely that it would count for much, as Toronto started its match by allowing Estudiantes a three-goal lead. Surprisingly, TFC fought back to square the game and won the ensuing penalty shoot-out. RBNY duly qualified for the semifinals.

RBNY has recruited heavily from its academy teams in recent years, and there will doubtless be players on the U-17 roster at this year's GA Cup who eventually turn pro with the Red Bulls. There is already at least one player in the squad who has experienced pro soccer as a Red Bull: Ben Mines has scored three goals at the tournament, after turning in a couple of eye-catching performances as a late-game sub for NYRB II in USL.

RBNY is the only MLS squad in this year's GA Cup semifinals. It will play Brazilian side Flamengo on Thursday, April 13, at 8:30 pm, Eastern. Check mlssoccer.com for streaming information.

The other semifinal will be contested by Ecuador's Independiente del Valle and Argentina's River Plate, the winner of the last two editions of this tournament.