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USL Academy Apr 26, 2023

Boys Best XI teams honored from 2023 USL Academy Cup

After impressive USL Academy Cup performances from hundreds of the nation’s elite young players, 44 have been selected to represent the Academy Cup’s All-Tournament teams.

See below for a look at the Boys Best XI First Team and Second Team selections. To view the Girls Best XI teams, click here.


FWD – Greyson Elmquist (Indy Eleven)

Impressive performances in this year’s Academy Cup saw the seventeen-year-old goal scorer take home the golden boot with four goals in as many appearances as well as top the rankings for the golden ball. The Lake City native was key to helping Indy Eleven retain the trophy, bagging a late winner to give his club back-to-back cup championships.

FWD – Daniel Lugo (Tampa Bay United)  

Narrowly missing out on the golden boot and runner-up to the golden ball, three goals in four games capped off a solid cup run for the Tampa Bay forward. Ultimately falling short in their championship matchup against Indy Eleven, Lugo’s performances provided just a glimpse of what the St. Pete youngster can offer moving forward.

FWD – Ali Taleb (Hartford Athletic)

Runner up in the race for the golden boot, Ali Taleb led Harford Athletic to a third place finish with three goals in four matches. With a string of strong cup showings under his belt, having represented the Lebanon U21 national team last summer, and captaining Hartford’s U19 team during the 2022 season, keep an eye on the 18-year-old as he looks to break into the first team.

MID – Diego Sanchez (Indy Eleven)

Representing his hometown club, the playmaker held a key role for Indy Eleven as they reclaimed their Academy Cup trophy. Proving to be a flexible asset by showcasing both his defensive and attacking capabilities, the Indianapolis local is one to watch after being indispensable for the cup winners.

MID – Marco Rios (Real Colorado)   

Even after a tough cup run-in saw Real Colorado finish bottom of Group A, individual performances from Rios offered insight into how special of a player the midfielder is. The 16 year old will look to lead the Colorado side to a successful campaign this season.

MID – Evan Petko (Wake FC)

With great displays in the center of the park, Petko established himself as a pivotal figure in the heart of midfield for the North Carolina club. Even finding the back of the net on multiple occasions, the Holly Park homegrown has the tools to be an effective #6 that has a knack for getting on the scoresheet.

DEF – Brandon Munson (Tampa Bay United)

Starting three out of four games for Tampa Bay United, strong defensive showings from the youngster warrant his inclusion in this year’s installment of the Academy Cup’s best XI. Operating as a left back when on the pitch, Munson showcased just how important he was in Tampa Bay’s cup run-in to secure a second-place finish.

DEF – Darryl Hage (Hartford Athletic)     

Crowned as young player of the tournament, the Ghanaian defender was an integral component to helping his club achieve a respectable third palace finish. Deployed in both a back three and back four, Hage’s defensive versatility and reliability makes him a player to watch for the future.

DEF – Lucas Kegerreis (Indy Eleven)

A rock at the back for Indy Eleven, the Indianapolis local demonstrated an unwavering defensive work rate that helped Indy Eleven lift the trophy. Kegerreis will look to translate this momentum into a tough regular season.

DEF – Santiago Flores Hanus (Phoenix Rising)  

A modest fifth-place finish for Phoenix won’t take away from Flores Hanus and his commanding displays in the back line of Rising’s defense. Playing centrally in a back three, the 18-year-old defender advertised his defensive prowess while also chipping in with a goal.

GK – Grey Berglund (Indy Eleven)    

Conceding zero goals, Berglund walked away from Tampa with the golden glove, four clean sheets, and a championship. What more can you ask for? The young shot-stopper served as an excellent last line of defense, solidifying his rightful place between the sticks in this year’s Academy Cup best XI.


FWD – Liam Mullins (Phoenix Rising)

Narrowly missing out on the men’s best XI, the young #9 led the line for Phoenix, getting on the scoresheet twice in four games. With a respectable goals tally to his name, the 6 ‘0 foot forward exhibited why he’s one to watch for this upcoming Academy season.

FWD – Benjamin ‘Benji’ Chavarria (Indy Eleven)

Starting all three group games and coming off the bench late in their championship matchup vs Tampa Bay, Chavarria offered reliability in the offensive end of the pitch.  Third place in the race for the golden ball, the 17-year-old forward proved to be a consistent performer for Indy Eleven and will look to be a key figure for his club moving forward.

FWD – Brandon Hill (NC Fusion)    

A stellar performance in the Legacy championship game saw the youngster find the back of the net twice in the first half. In what was a rather quiet group stage for the forward, Hill was able to find goalscoring form at the right time to hand Fusion the trophy.

MID – Caleb Johnson (Southern Soccer Academy)

Undefeated in group play, Southern Soccer Academy lifted the trophy in the Select division with help from Caleb johnson, grabbing the equalizing goal in their championship matchup against Charlotte. The midfield Maestro from Powder Springs was instrumental for the Georgia club, contributing three goals in four matches from the center of midfield.

MID – Mathew Larkin (Boston Bolts)

With two disappointing losses in the group stage, the Bolts were able to secure a fifth-place finish with the help of Larkin. Even after picking up a red vs Weston FC, the midfielder from Massachusetts was able to bag three goals in all competitions as his club finished strong.

MID – Leo Santos (One Knoxville)

Knoxville’s first-ever academy signing was on full display for the USL’s latest expansion club. Even after losing back-to-back matches in the group stage, the sixteen-year-old midfielder was unplayable, scoring four goals across the tournament while also getting a brace in the third-place match.  As a former member of MLS club Nashville SC’s U-15 academy team, keep an eye on Santos as he’ll look to make waves for Knoxville this upcoming season.

DEF – Shafer Gottlieb (South Georgia Tormenta FC)

After a dispiriting Academy Cup run, Tormenta FC was highlighted by the performances of their up and coming defender, Shafer Gottlieb. Even after conceding six goals in four games, the young center back displayed his defensive dexterity on a number of occasions. As the Georgia outfit prepare for their upcoming campaign, Gottlieb will look to translate his form into the regular season as he leads the backline.

DEF – Matthew Ludica (Wake FC)

1’s across the board for Wake FC led them to a third-place matchup against Hartford Athletic, ultimately falling 1-0 to be handed fourth spot. In light of a middle-of-the-pack finish, performances from Mathew Ludica proved just how crucial he is to his club’s defensive system. The 6’0 foot tall defender will be central to providing solidity at the back for Wake FC this upcoming season.

DEF – Gabriel Lopes (AC Connecticut) 

Narrowly missing out on lifting the trophy in the Premier division, Gabriel Lopes’ defensive showings meant AC Connecticut held the best defensive record in the tournament. Conceding only three goals in four games, Lopes will hope to carry his stalwart style of defending into the regular season.

DEF – Carson Turpin (Park City Red Wolves)

A shoe in the for the best XI, class performances from Turpin helped his club secure fifth place in this years Academy Cup. Convincing displays at fullback saw the Red Wolves concede five goals and four games, a respectable figure considering his position on the flank.

GK – Alexis Enriquez (NC Fusion)

Four games meant four clean sheets for Enriquez as the Fusion lift the trophy in comfortable fashion. In what was a generally straightforward path to the championship game for the North Carolina team, Enriquez was calm and collected in goal as he led his club to the best defensive record in Legacy Division.

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