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Six Impact players called up by their country

The Impact may be off for three weeks, but many of its players are still pretty busy. After all, the 2019 Gold Cup and the Africa Cup of Nations are just around the corner, and the Montreal Impact will be well represented in these continental tournaments. European teams, on their end, continue their qualifying campaign for the 2020 European Championship, with the Finns and Jukka Raitala in good position thus far.

There’s certainly a lot to play for on the international stage and lots of good soccer to be watched during this three-week MLS hiatus. Here are the details.

Samuel Piette and Zachary Brault-Guillard, Canada
2019 Gold Cup
Canada 4-0 Martinique
Mexico 3-1 Canada
Canada 7-0 Cuba

There’s a lot of excitement around this edition of the Canadian national team, and with reason: a young squad insulated by a veteran presence is expected to progress far into the tournament, further than the quarterfinal exit at the hands of Jamaica two years ago.

The Reds kicked the tournament off in style, defeating Martinique 4-0. Things were a little more complicated against El Tri, however, on Wednesday night, Canada falling 3-1 despite a solid defensive performance. Samuel Piette was rested for this one, although Impact defender Zachary Brault-Guillard earned the start, his first for Canada in a major tournament.

It marks Samuel Piette’s fourth Gold Cup representing the Reds, while young full-back Zachary Brault-Guillard is living a first experience at the continental tournament.

Daniel Lovitz, United States
2019 Gold Cup
United States 4-0 Guyana, Tuesday
United States 6-0 Trinidad and Tobago
Panama v United States, Wednesday, June 26, 9pm

After Daniel Lovitz received his first ever call-up with the US Men’s national team in the beginning of 2019, he’ll be representing the Stars and Stripes for the very first time in a major tournament, the 2019 Gold Cup. Of course, as one of the tournament’s favourites, the Americans will kick off with extremely high expectations, something from which the Impact full-back has never shied away.

That being said, Gregg Berhalter’s men are coming off a few difficult losses in the past few days, during which they conceded four goals, scoring none in return. 

Micheal Azira, Uganda
2019 Africa Cup of Nations
DR Congo 0-2 Uganda
Uganda 1-1 Zimbabwe
Uganda v Egypt, Sunday, June 30, 3pm

The man known as Michel around here will bring his skills in midfield to the Africa Cup of Nations, where he’ll be representing the Ugandans for the second time in the continental tournament. The Cranes find themselves in a difficult Group A, comprised of Egypt, the most successful team in AFCON history with seven titles, Zimbabwe, and DR Congo.

Jukka Raitala, Finland
2020 European Championship qualifying
Finland 2-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina
Liechtenstein 0-2 Finland

The Finns are on a mission, the mission being to finish amongst the two best nations in their group and participate to their first-ever European Championship. After kicking off the campaign with a 2-0 loss at the hands of the Italians, they’ve bounced back with three wins, including a 2-0 over Bosnia and Herzegovina, in which Impact defender Jukka Raitala came on for 22 minutes, followed by another 2-0 win against Liechtenstein in which Raitala started, putting in another 87 minutes for the team.  

Raitala and his teammates now find themselves second in their group. Will Raitala forever be a part of his country’s history? With three wins out of four games, and three points up on the runner-up, things are certainly positive thus far.  

Omar Browne
2019 Gold Cup
Panama 2-0 Trinidad and Tobago 
Guyana 2-4 Panama
Panama v United States, Wednesday, June 26, 9pm

Omar Browne joined the Impact from Panama, impressing the Montreal supporters with an array of technical skills and an eye for goal. He seems to have caught the eye of the Panamanian selection as well, who included Browne in the 23-man group that will represent Panama at the Gold Cup.

Although Browne had already represented Panama before, this will be his first time participating in a major tournament. After qualifying for the FIFA World Cup for this first time in their history in 2018, expectations will be high for the Panamanians, who find themselves in a group with the United States as well.