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IMFC International watch

Four Impact players selected by their national teams

Although the Impact’s 2019 season has come to an end, four Montreal players have had to wait for their break to officially start: an important international window awaits Canadian Samuel Piette, American Daniel Lovitz and Finns Jukka Raitala and Lassi Lappalainen. While the first two faced each other at BMO Field in Toronto on Tuesday, October 15, in the Concacaf Nations League, an important game for Canada in its attempt to be a part of the continent’s top six teams, the Finland national team continued its Euro 2020 qualifying campaign, distancing itself from its closest pursuers, who they will face in back-to-back games. Here’s what you need to know regarding our four travellers:

Daniel Lovitz, United States
Concacaf Nations League, League A, Group A
United States 6-0 Cuba
Canada 2-0 United States

The full-back, who has been a part of the American national team picture since the beginning of the year, and his teammates kicked off their Concacaf Nations League campaign against Cuba, dominating the Caribbean country on route to a dominant 7-0 win.

The real test, however, would come against Canada, just four days later. Daniel Lovitz, who was named to the starting 11 against Cuba, was given another start by head coach Gregg Berhalter against the Reds. Although the Americans had their chances, they were on the wrong side of history at the end, falling 2-0 to a dominant Canadian side, their first loss to Canada in international play since 1985.

The USA will have a chance to avenge that loss when both teams face off again in November, this time south of the border, to try and gain some ground on Canada in Group A, League A of the Concacaf Nations League.

Lassi Lappalainen and Jukka Raitala, Finland
Euro 2020 qualifying
Bosnia and Herzegovina 4-1 Finland
Finland 3-0 Armenia

The Finns are within striking distance of their goal.

For the first time in their history, the Finnish national team can qualify for the 2020 Euro Cup. All it needs is one win from its next two qualifying games, against either Liechtenstein, last in Group J with 2 points, or Greece, in fifth with eight points.

Raitala, Lappalainen, and their teammates can thank the Greeks, who upset Bosnia and Herzegovina, beating them 2-1 and keeping them at 10 points, five behind Finland, in the second and last qualifying spot of Group J.

In the first of two qualifying games this past weekend, the Huuhkajat fell 4-1 to the Bosnians before putting in a dominant 3-0 performance against Armenia. Impact full-back Jukka Raitala, who’s been an essential part of Finland’s defensive unit in qualifying, played 90 minutes in both fixtures, while Lassi Lappalainen was given the start against Armenia, before being subbed off in the 61st minute.

Samuel Piette, Canada
Concacaf Nations League, League A, Group A
Canada 2-0 United States

John Herdman’s men are very familiar with their goal: they must be a part of the six best teams in Concacaf by June 2020 to qualify for the Hex, the main group of qualification for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

And Tuesday’s win against the United States, Canada’s first in 34 years against its rival, brings them that much closer to achieving that goal.

“We’re really proud,” said midfielder Samuel Piette, speaking with Impact Media from Toronto. “It’s a huge accomplishment for the players, our staff, the supporters, and the entire country, to be a part of this historic moment. The feeling is truly incredible.”

Canada now has three wins in three Group A games, putting the international side in optimal position to finish atop their group and qualify to the semi-final of the inaugural Concacaf Nations League. Samuel Piette, on his end, was dominant in midfield through 90 minutes against the Americans.

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