Impact kicks off Winter Cup in Florida

Impact U17 and U19 qualified to first phase of inaugural tournament

The Impact U17 and U19 will take part in the inaugural US Soccer Development Academy Winter Cup, taking place in Bradenton, Florida, from December 4 to 14. The two Impact teams qualified to the 32-team shortlist, the Impact U17 finishing second in its group, while the Impact U19 finished sixth.

Here are both teams’ schedules for the tournament:

Impact U17 v Concorde Fire U17 – December 5, 11:10am
Impact U17 v Crossfire Premier U17 – December 6, 10am
Impact U17 v San Diego Surf U17 – December 8, 9am

Impact U19 v Colorado Rapids U19 – December 4, 10am
Impact U19 v Sockers FC U19 – December 5, 1:20pm
Impact U19 v FC Delco U19 – December 7, 9am

About the Winter Cup

This is a new competition that began this year, with 80 teams on the starting line, and 32 teams qualifying for the Winter Cup in each age category. These teams are now split into eight groups of four, with the best team in each group making it to the quarterfinal phase of the competition, which will be played in the spring.

 “I’m expecting high quality games for both teams, during which I think we’ll face a lot of adversity,” said Academy director and Impact U19 head coach Philippe Eullaffroy. “There’ll be more intensity than usual, but that’s what we want, because that’s what they’re going to live every day during their professional careers. These are formative experiences, and ones we’re impatient to be a part of.”

This new competition allows both Impact teams to play games of higher importance earlier in the season, and face opponents they don’t usually get to face on a regular basis, which will be the case in this upcoming Winter Cup.

Elevated competition

For the USSDA, the ultimate goal of this competition was to increase the number of competitive games for MLS clubs. For example, the Impact U19 finds itself in a group of nine teams with five other MLS clubs, meaning the teams they face on a week-to-week basis are higher in quality, making for stiffer competition.

“For a few years now, there was demand from MLS teams for games of higher quality over the course of the season,” explained Eullaffroy. “So USSDA came up with this cup, but also with changes in the group structure. It leads to games of higher quality, and that’s a big plus. Competition is important to develop players, but high-quality competition is vital. We needed a bigger challenge every weekend, and it’s very positive at the moment.”

Both Impact teams will need to finish first in their respective groups to qualify for the quarterfinal phase of the competition, which will take place in the Spring. Further details will be announced shortly.