Impact reserve team goalkeeper James Pantemis will remember the 2016 U18 USSDA playoffs for a long time. On June 26, 2016, in an important game against Arsenal FC to help his team qualify for the next round, he tore his ACL.
“It happened in the third USSDA playoff game in Dallas,” said Pantemis. “After 20 minutes, I asked for the ball, but when I went for it, my knee turned.”
The meetings with the doctors were clear: the Montreal goalkeeper would be off the field for at least six to nine months, pushing his return to 2017.
In 2016, Pantemis reached a new level in his career. He joined the FC Montreal team and played his first two USL games. He also took part in many U20 camps with Canada and helped his team, in a friendly game, win 2-1 against England in March.
The 2017 CONCACAF Men’s Under-20 Championship, with berths to the FIFA U20 World Cup in Korea Republic at stake, will be held from February 17 to March 5, 2017, in Costa Rica.
“The timing is frustrating,” adds Pantemis. “I miss many camps with the national team and probably the qualifications for the U20 World Cup. But it’s the type of event that motivates you to come back stronger. My goal is to work and be ready for the World Cup if we qualify. If you cheat, even for a day, you’ll regret it. It’s a dream to go to the World Cup. I think about it every day and it helps me push and go through the toughest moments.”
The Academy technical and medical staff worked hard to help the 19-year-old goalkeeper come back to play and be ready for new challenges.
“We worked really hard together to make sure that despite his injury, the last months would benefit James and he has been progressing as a goalkeeper and an athlete,” said goalkeeper coach Jack Stern. “He has a first-class attitude and I like working with him. I see his determination and his will for success. I think James will be back from this injury stronger and all the credit goes to him for the countless hours we spent together.”
“I have to give credit to the staff that planned everything well, whether it’s the fitness coach, the therapists or the goalkeeper coach,” said Pantemis. “They did good work and I trust them because they know what they’re doing.”