2016 was filled with emotion and competition for the Montreal Impact Academy teams, whether with the Development Academy playoffs qualification for the U18 and U16 teams or with prestigious tournaments in Europe and Mexico for the U14s and U13s. It was also the first year of the International U14 tournament, hosted by the Montreal Impact. But before everything else, it’s the signing of three homegrown players with the first team that marked the year, as David Choinière, Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla and Louis Béland-Goyette all made the jump with the MLS team.
To reach this ultimate goal, the Academy staff continues to put in place all the necessary elements for young players to reach their objectives. This is why 2017 will, once again, see many events that are key in the development of local players.
The Development Academy league challenge
Each year, the U16 and U18 teams compete in the Development Academy championship, which includes over 70 academies and most of the MLS clubs’ youth teams. It’s the best competition level in North America for these age groups.
Both teams always aim to make it to the playoff phase with the best 32 teams. The U18s are currently 19th, while the U16s are sitting 33rd at the half-season break.
Last year, both teams made the playoffs and when the season restarts, they will want to repeat the feat. To get there, the month of March will be crucial. Both teams will play their first four games of 2017 away, starting on March 4 at Seacoast United’s field.
Before the 2017-18 season, there will also be a change with the Development Academy’s age categories. The U18 teams will become U19s, and the U16s will become U17 teams. The main reason for this change is to be aligned with youth team international standards.
Showcase for the U14 group
For the Bleu-blanc-noir U14s, the players will face some important challenges. As well as playing in the Ligue Excellence Sport-Études, a few events will also take place.
Looking at the previous years, head coach Eduardo Sebrango’s team should take part in provincial and national showcases organized by the Canadian Soccer Association. These camps are generally organized for players of this age category to identify players that will integrate Canada’s youth teams in the future. This group should also participate in a national tournament organized by the CSA that was in Montreal in 2016. This time, the tournament should be somewhere else in the country, with the participation of the Vancouver Whitecaps, Toronto FC, Edmonton, and a selection from the rest of Canada.
Just like in 2016, the Impact U14 should again participate in the Tournoi international U15 de Neuville sur Saône, in France. Last year, the team faced Olympique de Marseille, Estac Troyes and Sporting Clube de Portugal, finishing mid table of this prestigious French tournament.
International competition for the U13s
For head coach Serge Dinkota’s team, there will be many opportunities to face teams from all around the world. As well as the Mauro Biello tournament with dates to be determined, the group will participate in two international competitions.
The International U14, hosted by the Impact at Centre Nutrilait, will start on June 29 and finish on July 2. Last year, the Impact had the chance to play against Chicago Fire, D.C. United and Bologna FC 1909. In 2017, the tournament should have more teams, as well as a team from Quebec which will qualify through the International U14 Qualification Tournament.
The Impact U13 should also compete in an international tournament in Sens, France.
More details will follow during the year concerning the tournaments and the events to which the Academy will participate.