For the first time, the Impact had three teams starting their Development Academy season on September 2. Previously, only the two older Academy teams participated in the competition.
The Impact U15 therefore faced the challenge of a new, high-level championship. But Serge Dinkota’s team was ready and wanted to start the season on the right foot.
“The group and I were really excited to play in the Development Academy,” said Impact U15 head coach Serge Dinkota. “I was already familiar with the championship since our U17 and U19 teams were already in it. I told the players that the teams we would face had a superb mentality, never quit and caused problems until the last minute.”
The U15 team turned its initial excitement into results, winning six straight games to start the season, including four clean sheets. At the mid-season break, the Bleu-blanc-noir is second of its group with an 8-4-0 record. The team stood out with good results, including a 3-0 win against the New England Revolution in September.
“Our priority remains the quality and consistency of our performances,” added Dinkota. “If we have good performances and are consistent in what we offer, the results will follow. But in general, the first half of the season was satisfying. Of the 12 games that we played, only one was disappointing. Despite this, the group knows that it can do better, and wants to do better.”
Even if it had a good start, the team still had to face some challenges.
“The biggest challenge was to play game after game with high intensity, every week, and be consistent for 80 minutes (Editor’s note: 80 minutes is the total time of a U15 game). The trips were also tough for the boys.”
Serge Dinkota’s team enjoyed some great moments in the beginning of the year that added to the overall experience it needed to be ready for the Development Academy. In April 2017, the team flew to France to participate in the Tournoi Sans Frontières in Sens. Facing some of the best Ligue 1 teams and other foreign clubs, the Impact finished 11th in the tournament, on a total of 24 teams.
In the International U14 tournament, played at the beginning of July, the U15 team faced six MLS clubs and an amateur club, finishing in 6th overall.
The second half of the season won’t be easy for Serge Dinkota’s team. In the 12 games left on the calendar, the Impact U15 will face three MLS academies and a few strong amateur clubs as well.