Academy: Impact U16 and U18 ready for USSDA playoffs
The Impact U16 and U18 teams have both qualified for the 2014 USSDA playoffs, putting them amongst the top 32 academies in North America. Finishing their second regular season in the USSDA, the U16 ranked 10th out of 79 teams and the U18, 13th out of 79 teams. Both teams finished their regular season with a record of 15-6-2.
The playoff journey for the U16 and U18 starts in less than two weeks in Indianapolis, where they will battle in their respective playoff groups. The 32 qualified teams have been split into eight groups of four teams this week, where each team will play a minimum of three games in four days during the first round of the playoffs. Group winners will then advance to the Academy Championships Knockout round.
The first round for the U16 takes place in Indianapolis between June 23 and 27. They are placed in Group B along with the PA classics, Seattle Sounders FC and Strikers FC.
“Having both MLS affiliated teams and private academies in our group will be a good challenge for us since they have two very distinct styles of play,” opinioned U16 head coach Wilfried Nancy. “The mental state of the team is key to progressing through these playoffs. All the teams we will play against are more or less at the same level physically, so we have to surpass ourselves by washing away any uncertainties from this being our first time in the playoffs. With the season we have had, the guys are already very confident with our style of play. Sport we can`t control, but we can control how we prepare for it, and that is key to staying a step ahead in this competition.”
The U18s will kick off a day earlier on June 22, ending on the 26th. They will be facing the LA Galaxy, Chicago Magic PSG and Real Colorado in Group B.
Head coach Jason DiTullio feels that the old cliché of one game at a time is important for his team during this experience.
“These playoffs are not only a step towards winning the championship for our players, but also a chance for them to gain respect and recognition within the soccer community. This is the precursor to being recruited in the PDL in the following years, so we have a group of highly motivated 18 year olds coming into these playoffs.”
“This is not only a historic moment for the Academy, being in its first USSDA playoffs, but it also validates the progress we are making as a group, seeing as we were not close to qualifying last year,” explained Academy director Philippe Eullaffroy. “During the playoffs, one game can make or break our chances. Playoffs create a state of urgency for the teams. Our teams are ready, confident and having our style of play and identity in place, we will have to focus on maintaining that when we step onto the field during the playoffs.”
The semifinals for both age groups will take place in California on July 17, followed by the finals two days later at the US Soccer national training centre.