The Impact U17 started its qualification phase for the Generation adidas Cup last weekend. Unfortunately, the first two games ended in 2-1 losses, against FC Dallas and against Sporting Kansas City.
If the Impact had its opportunities in both games, Nicolas Gagnon’s team will have the chance to win its first game on Saturday, at 10am, when Toronto FC’s U17 group visits Centre Nutrilait for the third of six qualifying games.
“The first two games were tough,” said Impact U17 goalkeeper Benjamin Collins. “We had a good team in front of us against Dallas. Against Kansas, we were better, and we were disappointed to lose points. We watched the video of the game and noticed a few things. We all need to be on the same page.”
Toronto has already won two games and lost one, also 2-1 against FC Dallas.
In the Development Academy, Toronto FC plays in a different division than the Impact, which means the youth teams rarely have the chance to face each other.
“It’s a big game against Toronto this weekend. Just like the pros, it’s a rivalry game. It will be tough. Toronto, just like us, has one of the best MLS academies. It will be a high-level game.”
Last year, the Impact U17 qualified automatically to the Premier Division (equivalent to the competition’s second division) in the Generation adidas Cup, having not taken part in qualifying.
After topping its group, the team finished third in the competition, winning 3-2 against Mexican club CF Monterrey in its last game.
This year, the Impact has the chance to qualify for the Champions Division if it manages to finish in the top two of its group, or as one of the two best third placed teams across all three groups.
“Last year, it was a good experience with the team. I had the chance to see things and learn. It was also amazing to play in a big stadium for third place. We played against big teams. This year, it’s a little bit different because I play more.”
Including this Saturday’s game, the Impact has four games left to climb in the standings. Last year at the GA Cup and even this year in the Development Academy, the Impact U17 showed it could face adversity. They will need the same mentality again in the next few games.
After Toronto FC, the Impact will face Columbus Crew SC, the Chicago Fire and the Houston Dynamo in February, in Houston, Texas.
“This is the first of four games we have left. We need points in all of our games left to secure our spot in the first division.”
The Champions Division and Premier Division of the Generation adidas Cup will be played in April 2019.