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The Playbook | MLS Flex Fest – December 2023 (Phoenix, AZ)

The 2023 MLS Next Fest Competition took place in Phoenix, Arizona December 5th- December 10 at the Reach 11 Soccer Complex. All 3 Canadian MLS Teams competed across the U15-U17 divisions and here is an insight of who we thought were the standout performers from the event.

Hit the link in our bio to read the full 2023 MLS Next Fest  Playbook Recap

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Pablo Patrick-Galvez | Toronto FC U17 | CB | 2007 born

Pablo was fantastic this weekend for Toronto FC U17. Patrick- Galvez is one of the few players in this group who spent majority of last season playing in this very same U17 division (2007 playing with 2006’s), and you can just tell by his demeanour that not much phases him as he always seems to be ultra composed. Last year he was the “youngster” but this year he is captaining the side and it will be interesting to see how far Pablo can take them. In 3 Games Toronto FC had 2 shutouts so things look to be off to a good start but expectations will be high as the Toronto FC U17 group was ranked #2 in the league going into playoffs in last year. 

Dominic Kantorowicz | Toronto FC U17 | GK | 2008 born

Dominic was another bright spot for TFC at the MLS Next Flex event, displaying excellent shot stopping, command of his box,  and distribution in all 3 games. Being one of the (3) 2008 players on this TFC U17 roster you couldn’t tell by the way Kantorowicz performed. For this age group it looks like TFC have a “well-welcomed” goalkeeper problem. Dominic is fresh off (2) CMNT youth selections over the last few months with the U15/2008’s in a Concacaf Qualifier where he was the #1 and served as a backup for the U17/2006’s in the U17 FIFA World Cup just a few weeks ago. Meanwhile on this team he is normally the backup to Nathaniel Abraham who was  the starter at the U17 World Cup (Nathaniel was not present at this event) and TFC have another 2007 born goalkeeper Ryan Tiltack who is currently injured but is ranked #5 in our 2025/2007 Grade rankings. With all that said it will be interesting to see where and when  Kantorowicz gets his playing time this season as he was certainly impressive in Arizona. 

Rayan Elloumi | Vancouver Whitecaps U17 | FWD | 2007 born

Rayan was excellent for Whitecaps this weekend scoring 2 goals in 3 games for the side. The striker has been the ‘danger man’ for the West-Coast group already notching a hat-trick in the MLS Next regular season versus LA Galaxy and seems to be adjusting to MLS Next play well after joining the academy just this summer from BTB Academy in Edmonton. The down-side for the Caps in this event however is that they came out of it winless and with how competitive the West Coast conference is it will be very challenging for them to have much success this year and earn a playoff berth in June. 

Liam Mackenzie | Vancouver Whitecaps U17 | MID | 2007 Born

Liam was rock solid for the Caps in his games at the event playing in his usual CM position. One of the lone holdovers from last year’s squad where he was a ‘younger player’, Liam consistently shows his composure on the ball and at times is the only connector for the caps in starting attacks from the back line to the final third. With a recent trial at Schalke in Germany and a ‘pre” World Cup U17  Canadian National team camp invite, and debuting for VWFC 2 last season, one can only suspect Liam is trending towards a MLS Homegrown/ VWFC 2 signing at some point in 2024. 

Sebastian Joseph | CF Montreal U17 | FWD | 2007 Born

Joseph was one of the best players across all teams at MLS Next Fest in Arizona. The forward was sensational for Montreal, always making things happen in 1v1 situations and providing the end product in the final third with goals and assists. The trend in the event with Canadians who stood out was ‘experience’ as many of the previous standouts we mentioned played most of their season with the U17’s as a ‘younger’ player and the same can be said about Joseph as he spent the whole season in this same division last year. Currently Joseph plays international football with Haiti and as a dual-national we will continue to keep an eye on how things progress there but his future is certainly bright. 

Eliot Germain-Aubrey | CF Montreal U17 | Wingback | 2008 born

Eliot had himself quite the showing for CF Montreal in Arizona showing his versatility and why he is such a vital piece for this CF Montreal side.  In the system CF Montreal play (5-3-2 / 3-4-3) Eliot has a ton of ground to cover on both sides of the ball and does so at a tremendous level as his work-rate is through the roof. It seems as though the coaching staff knows this as well because late in games Germain-Aubrey is never substituted when the position needs changing, rather he moves to the other side so the player coming on can be on their preferred strong foot. It was quite surprising that Eliot was left off this summer Canada U15 camp after scoring 14 goals from the wingback position in MLS Next play last year but with continued performances like these one could only imagine his call up to a Canadian youth national team is on the horizon. 

Elijah Roche | Toronto FC U16 | CB | 2008 born

Elijah is a name to remember as he continues his development in the Toronto FC system. The CB was terrific this weekend in Arizona and even though only joining the academy full-time in August has asserted himself as the best defender on this team. Composed, strong in the tackle, good passing range is how we would describe Elijah as a player and we won’t be surprised if TFC begin to integrate him with the U17’s as the season progresses to have him get a ‘taste’ of tougher competition. At the Playbook we first saw Elijah at the East Coast Elite Combine in Nova Scotia as he was the youngest player at the event but was ever so dominant (ECE Combine 2022). With the improvement we’ve already seen in him from then to now don’t be surprised if he’s on the list for Canada U17 as they prepare for qualification for the U17 World Cup in 2024. 

Antone Bossenberry | Toronto FC U16 | CM | 2008 born

Antone had a very good showing for Toronto FC U16’s across the event. The U16 age group at the MLS Next level is normally challenging for MLS academies who do have teams in the division because not many MLS clubs have teams at this level. This makes the competition ‘hit or miss’ as the non- MLS academies don’t have the same type of talent and at times play very ‘low’ blocks. Regardless , Antone showed his fantastic technical ability unlocking teams in a ‘Kevin Debruyne/ Man-City’ type role. Antone is very creative in the final third and understands passing angles so well but one thing we realized that he has added to his game since seeing him with the U15’s last year is his increased defensive work-rate and leadership qualities. With a call to this year’s U15 Canada youth national team in the summer we expect Antone to have a dominant year in the Toronto FC system in 2024 and push for future calls with the CMNT U17s as they prepare for another World Cup qualifying campaign. 

Jamil Abubakar | Vancouver Whitecaps U15 | CM | 2009 born

Starting off our scouting of the 2009 born age group across the MLS academies is VWFC standout Jamil as he was a sight to witness at the event. The midfielder is the orchestrator for the Caps and is captivating with the ball at his feet, as it seems as though he always makes the right decision. His passing range was on full display and leadership qualities are noticeable as he is the calming presence when Whitecaps face pressure in tight areas of the pitch. Jamil also grabbed a goal in the ‘Best of West vs East’ MLS Next Fest All-Star game to go along with his standout performances for his club. With already having experience in the U15 division last year as a ‘younger-player’ the team will rely on Jamil to help carry them into playoffs this year. 

Aiden Bejaoui | Vancouver Whitecaps U15 | Winger | 2009 born 

Aiden had himself quite the last two games in Arizona scoring 3 goals from his right-mid position. Whitecaps U15 play an old-fashioned 4-4-2 and it fits Aiden’s profile perfectly as he is an athletic midfielder who loves to join the attack. The highlight of the event was his game winning goal against Canadian-rival Toronto FC U17’s as he riffled the ball into the top corner to secure the 2-1 win for VWFC. As he develops the technical/ 1v1 side of his game Aiden will be a prospect to watch  over the next few years in the Whitecaps system.

Alexander Makarova George | CF Montreal U15 | FWD | 2009 born

‘Dynamic’  is one of many words to describe the play of Makarova-George of his performances in Arizona, as the striker looks to have all the tools needed to play the position at such a young age. His technical ability, link/ hold up play, and finishing ability are at such high levels and keep CF Montreal ever so dangerous in every game they play in. This was ever so apparent in their match versus Minnesota United as Alexander scored 1 goal and dished out 2 assists as Montreal won the game 3-2 with Makarova-George playing a part in every action. 

Raphael Pascal/ Michael Ampofo | CF Montreal U15 | MIDs | 2009 born

The tandem were so good together we couldn’t even write this article about both of them as individuals. Pascal is the ‘enforcer’ on the CF Montreal team as he is the first one to disrupt play and keep CF Montreal in possession. While Ampofo is the magician as he continuously finds line breaking passes with either foot to progress Montreal into the opponents half. Both of them together complement each other so well and give CF MTL U15’s the ‘luxury’ of only having to play with 2 CM’s, as most modern-day formations play a 3 midfielder system. As the season continues and these two get even more comfortable with each other (not to mention Alexander Makarova George in attack) they can make a real push for high seeding in the MLS Next U15 league this year. 

Stefan Kapor | Toronto FC U15 |CB | 2009 Born

Despite the poor showing from Toronto FC U15 as a group in the event (1 win and 2 losses) the performances from Stefan can be seen as a bright spot for the team. Kapor was excellent in their first two games defensively but also contributed on the offensive side through set plays scoring 2 headers off corners in two matches. The CB has a great frame for his age and is everything you can ask for in a CB which is starting to become some sort of factory at TFC with names like Adam Perlman (2005), Lazar Stefanovic (2006), Chimere Omeze (2006), Pablo Patrick Galvez (2007), and now insert Stefan Kapor (2009). With a Canada U15 alternate call this summer it will be interesting to see if Stefan can get one of the few “younger age” calls (2009 born in a 2008 banded year) for upcoming U17 Concacaf qualifying in 2024 but only time will tell. 

Jahziye Crooks-Foster | Toronto FC U15 | FWD| 2009 Born

Jahziye Crooks Foster is electric and such a dynamic attacker at the U15 level. His ability to glide past defenders in 1v1 situations was on full display in Arizona at MLS Next Fest. Despite all his creativity and dribbling prowess it seems as though Crooks-Foster left his ‘finishing boots’ in Toronto on the weekend as the forward was just unlucky not to have scored 5-6 goals in the two games we watched of him. Luckily finishing ability at the age is something that can be developed because what is harder to teach is the ability to always be dangerous and movement required to put yourself in those positions and that is certainly what Jahziye possesses. 

Matthew Hinds, Houston Dynamo U15 | CM | 2009 Born

We had the privilege to watch Dual-National Matthew Hinds at this event as well as his Houston Dynamo team were in action at the event. The midfielder was ‘solid’ for his team playing in a CM/CDM role for the Texas side. Technically Hinds is fantastic, his positioning and willingness to get forward from deep lying positions is encouraging, and as he matures physically he will become a top prospect either collegiately or for the pro ranks. In speaking with the Houston coaching staff as well they already view Hinds as a high level player in the academy as he was one of the lone 2009 players who played with the U15’s last year and consistently trains with the U17’s which is 1-2 years above him. As the U17 World Cup qualification approaches we wouldn’t be surprised to see Matthew called in for further evaluation.  

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