By Dave Rowaan
Toronto FC had a mixed weekend at the Annandale Premier Cup in Northern Virginia this past weekend.
The club sent three teams down to the event,which ran March 8-10 in the Washington, D.C. suburbs. The Annandale Cup featured a total 278 teams across seven different age groups and different levels of competition in this year’s boys event.
The majority of the teams taking part in the event came from the Mid-Atlantic region, with Toronto FC’s academy teams making up half of the foreign content in the event field. TFC sent three teams down for the weekend as the club competed in the Under-13 Adidas Premier Group, the U-15 Adidas Premier Group, and the U-16 Showcase, competing in Bracket B.
The U-16 side had a tough weekend, picking up just a single point in their three matches and winding up on the bottom of their group. The team opened the event with a 2-1 defeat on Friday against Shaker Youth Soccer Association Premier Football Club U16 Boys 96/97 from Ohio.
They did follow that up with a solid 2-2 draw against a fellow MLS academy side as they took on D.C. United Academy’s 97 team. Their event came to an unsuccessful close with another 2-1 defeat, this time at the hands of Arlington Soccer Association Strikers Red (Va.). The Arlington side would wind up on top of the group with seven points while the two MLS academy sides ended up finishing at the bottom with just three points between them.
TFC’s academy teams found a lot more success in the lower age groups, where they managed to send two teams to their respective finals. That success will surely have impressed academy director Thomas Rongen, who attended the event to keep an eye on the young talent in the club.
In the U-15 Adidas Premier group Toronto FC rolled through Bracket A with two straight wins, nine goals for, and zero against. They opened the event with a 6-0 win over CJFC Barcelona from New Jersey and followed that up with a 3-0 win over D.C. United’s 98 academy side.
By topping their group with such ease, Toronto’s academy team booked a place in the knockout rounds. They were drawn with Lower Merion Soccer Club Magic in the semifinals. They knocked the Pennsylvania side out with a solid 2-0 win, booking their place in the event’s final.
In the final TFC met another Pa. team in the LDC United City Islanders 97-98. The final saw them give up their only goal against all event but they had more than enough scoring to get the job done, taking home a 5-1 win and winning the Adidas Premier group. The run to the title included a very impressive 16 goals scored and only 1 against over the three days.
The success for Toronto did not end there, though, as the U-13 team also had a very good weekend. They found themselves in Bracket A of the Adidas Premier Group and wound up taking top spot in the group with a pair of convincing wins.
The U-13 team opened the event with a resounding 8-0 win over Danubia SC Celtic Elite (Pa.). They wrapped up the group with a closer game against Pachuca FC USA 99 which saw TFC come away with a 4-2 win over the Maryland squad.
After that they were on to the knockout rounds and a quarterfinal matchup against Ohio Premier Eagles Dublin Green II. Toronto again flexed its offensive muscles, notching five goals and coming away with a 5-1 final. The win moved them on to a semifinal clash with Raiders FC Premier U13 of Illinois. In another high-scoring affair, it was Toronto that came out on the winning end of a 4-2 result.
It was a second finals appearance for the club on the weekend, with the U-13 team looking to earn the club’s second title. To win it they would have to get past Blau Weiss Gottschee Boys 99 Blue, a New York side from the club which once constituted the New York Cosmos’ youth academy.
Toronto relied on a solid defensive effort in the final to overcome a Gottschee teamthat had a very good defensive record of their own over the weekend. TFC ended up claiming a 2-0 win in the final, bringing home the club’s second title of the weekend across three age groups.
The U-13 side ended up winning all five games they played over the course of the weekend. They scored a very impressive 23 goals along the way and only allowed 5 goals. Considering only one other team in the group managed to end the weekend with a goal total in double figures, Toronto’s U-13 team were clearly the class of the field.
The U-16 team may have had a tough weekend, going 0-3, but for Toronto FC, titles in both the U-15 and U-13 age groups should help to soften the blow. On the whole, it was another successful weekend for Toronto FC’s academy as they continue to serve notice that they are a program with a lot of talent that can compete with anyone in North America across a number of different age groups.
Toronto’s academy is just getting started with what is shaping up to be a busy spring season that will be highlighted by the club sending their U-18 side to the Dr. Pepper Dallas Cup and their U-17 team to the AEGON Future Cup in the Netherlands.