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Toronto FC begins their quest for the Generation adidas Cup this weekend

Danny Dichio on preparation, home field, and the value of such experiences as Toronto FC prepares to host the Generation adidas Cup Regional Qualifying this weekend at the Kia Training Ground

The 2015-16 Generation adidas Cup is underway - game on!
The 2015-16 Generation adidas Cup is underway - game on!
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

TFC are hosting the 2015-16 Fall Qualifying event for the East Regional group of U-17 MLS academy this weekend at Downsview Park.

Teams representing five other MLS clubs – DC United, New England Revolution, Philadelphia Union, Orlando City, and New York Red Bulls – will be joining TFC for a round robin of matches to determine whether they are placed in the Champions or Premier Divisions at the final stage of the tournament next spring.

Nine matches will be played over the long weekend – three each on Friday, Saturday, and Monday. All matches will be streamed live and are free to attend. The full schedule can be viewed here.

On Thursday, Danny Dichio, who will be managing the TFC side, took the time to speak ahead of the start of the competition.

Playing against unfamiliar competition provides a unique challenge for TFC, as they do not cross paths regularly with MLS competition at this age group, not being a part of the USSDA.

When asked if he had had a chance to scout the opposition, Dichio admitted they were "going into it blind, to be honest, but I think that's part of the excitement as well."

"(The) team that we're going into the tournament with is a U-16 team, we have some 15 year-old’s on the squad as well, but we play in a U-21 Men's league all season. The only time we've played against our age group is when we went to Italy recently to play in a tournament. It's going to be great playing against our own age group for our boys to get a good gauge of where they're at in their development; also for us as staff."

"After the first five-ten minutes, the players will see that they're OK, or they might go, 'holy, we're under the cosh here', so I think that's a good adaptation for the players to handle."

Normally home field advantage would add a certain level of comfort in such a tournament, but Dichio cautions against expecting it to be easy. "(Home field advantage) has sort of swayed, even at the professional level. You'll see a lot of teams now more comfortable playing away from home because the home team has to really come out, try and attack and perform, so the game has turned into a counterattack game where teams defend very well, organized, and then hit on the counter."

"I don't think we'll be under pressure to come and attack people, but players are playing in front of their families and friends, and that's a great thing to have. I've been there and it bumps everyone's performance up."

But overall, it is the value of the experience that makes this competition so worthwhile. "It's excellent. It's something that MLS has really pushed for. This is a really good tournament, sponsored by Adidas, main sponsors of the league."

"For the players' development, at this young age, against fellow MLS hopefuls, or even players that may be going to college in the near future, it gives them the experience, but also gives them a good gauge of where they're at, where they need to improve, or where they're very strong. We get to play against local teams a lot, but we don't get to play against MLS opponents a lot, so these tournaments are a must for us."

With the big club off this weekend, local fans in need of their footy fix should look no further that the action taking place at the Kia Training Ground.

The other half of this interview can be seen here