The youth sports landscape in Canada is complicated. Casual observers have no chance of understanding the shifting acronyms that comprise the scene.
Soccer in Ontario is no different. At the end of any particular year, there are myriad ‘champions’.
For the second-straight year, TFC Academy will be hosting a near-week-long tournament to determine who reigns supreme.
“It’s an opportunity for us to bring best of the best together at the end of the season,” said academy director Anthony Capotosto by phone on Monday. “Teams that have performed well in their respective leagues, won their respective leagues, that are at the top of the standings. It will make for a very competitive environment, all these teams in one place.”
Standings for the U-13 age group in both OPDL and OASL are not available to the public, but five sides will join TFC in the Champions Cup. From the OPDL regions are Hamilton United Elite SC (West), Ottawa South United SA (East), and Woodbridge Strikers SC (Central). And from the OASL are Pro Stars FC and Sigma FC.
Terry Dunfield will lead the TFC Academy U-13/2005 group.
“[They] competed in OPDL this year, a year up, in the U-14 division,” explained Capotosto. “It was a very competitive division for them, but the group is making very good progress. The training is becoming a lot more competitive; they’re learning our principles and style of play, slowly but surely. Players and staff are having a better understanding of what is expected.”
In the U-15 class, from the OPDL North Toronto SC finished first in the Central Division and won the Charity Shield, Oakville SC won the OPDL Cup and finished first in the West, and Unionville Milliken SC were the runners-up in the Charity Shield and led the East. From the OASL, Rush Canada Blue finished first and Rush Canada White second in the championship.
Jon Mondino will lead the TFC Academy U-15/2003 group.
“[They] just came off winning the (U-17) Charity Shield in OPDL – had a very successful season,” said Capotosto, underselling an undefeated year. “Now we’re looking to see if we play with our own age group, how we match up against the competition. It’s an exciting time for them.”
The action gets underway on Wednesday evening at 5 p.m. with the first two matches of the U-13 competition. Thursday and Friday see four matches each, beginning at 1:30 p.m. Group play will wrap up on Saturday with a pair of U-15 matches, starting at 4:30 p.m. – TFC Academy will have three additional USSDA matches earlier in the day against Cleveland’s Internationals: the U-15s play at 9 a.m., the U-17s at 11:30 a.m. and the U-19s at 2 p.m.
The winners of the BMO Champions Cup will be decided on Sunday with matches at 1:30 p.m. (U-13) and 3:30 p.m. (U-15). The full schedule is available at torontofc.ca.
Having such a vast array of talent in one location provides an excellent opportunity to scout some of the top players in the province. As with last year, Canada Soccer will have representatives on hand; TFC will be keeping a close eye on the proceedings.
“The luxury is having all the teams in one location; having the opportunity for multiple people to be seeing these games, including our national team staff, which was the case last year and will be this year,” said Capotosto. “[TFC] staff will be on site, not just watching our games, but the others as well, to see if there are any players in the community that could have an opportunity with the academy.”