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The Playbook | 2023 MLS Next Cup Playoffs

Last week was the 2023 addition of the MLS Next Cup Playoffs where Toronto FC U15, Toronto FC U17, Toronto FC U19 & CF Montreal U15 all made the playoff competition to try and take home the season ending event in Frisco, Texas.  

Here at the Playbook/ FTF we were able to catch the action and below are our standout players from the event. 

**Note we just followed teams as they were still ‘alive’ in the single elimination tournament.** 

Game 1: Toronto FC U16 (#14 seed) vs  Barca Residency Academy U16 (#19 seed)

TFC U16 won this game 6-2 over Barca Residency Academy to advance to the Round of 16

TFC Standouts: 

#11 Dante Wright (LW)  – Wright was electric, netting himself a hat trick in only the first half of this game versus Barca. Wright showed blistering pace down the left wing and ability to find great pressing cues which resulted in him scoring off the keeper’s errors. Wright has an uncanny ability  to delay his runs in the box and attack dangerous areas as soon as the ball gets delivered. 

#1 Ryan Tiltack (GK) – Tiltack commanded his area for the whole 90 minutes in this match, while also looking very composed in possession when his side was building out of the back. Additionally he made some big saves to keep his team with a comfortable lead throughout the game. For his age Ryan has a great feel of knowing when to slow down the game and keep his team in check when the other team is building momentum which helped TFC U16’s suck the life out of this one and earn a spot in the Round of 16.  

Game 2: Toronto FC U16 (#14 seed) vs Breakers FC U16 (#3 seed)

TFC U16 lost this game 2-2 (5-3) in penalty kicks against #3 overall seed Breakers FC and were eliminated from the playoff competition.

TFC Standouts: 

#15 Ange Gbe (CDM) – The CDM broke up tons of play for TFC in this one and was the engine in the TFC midfield. Ange allows his #8 and #10 to dictate the game and get forward as they know things are covered behind them as he’s your classic stay at home #6. Additionally Ange is very comfortable in possession and made some big tackles in transition to shut down Breakers FC  counter attacks.

#10 Carter Tavares (CAM) – Carter is a wizard in small pockets of space. Tavares consistently finds good areas of space to operate in and his a dream for any #9 to play with. Defensively Carter understands his pressing cues and today even scored a goal from a late run from the top of the 18 in which he timed perfectly. Technically Taveres never disappoints but he still was able to show another level in this one.

Game 3: Toronto FC U15 (#17 seed) vs Tampa Bay United U15 (#16 seed) 

TFC U15 won this game 1-0 over Tampa Bay United to advance to the Round of 16

#8 Timothy Fortier (CDM) – Timothy ran the show against Tampa Bay from start to finish and it seemed like he had the game in the palm of his hand. Fortier consistently got into good pockets to help his team build out the back, but it was his endurance that caught our eye today as it seemed as though he was running non-stop; making consistent recovery runs across the whole pitch. 

#9 Kemari Record-Wright (ST) – Kemari was able to do it all in this game.His hold up play was great as he very frequently drops in between lines to collect and create for this TFC U15 team. Kemari picked up an assist by doing this very action, as he collected the ball deep on the half turn and then sprayed a ball in behind for his winger to run onto and finish. TFC U15 have a real talent in Kemari and it’s inevitable that we will see him in Canada’s youth system in a few years.

Game 4: Toronto FC U15 (#17 seed) vs  LAFC U15  (#1 seed)

TFC U15 lost this game 1-1 (5-3) in penalty kicks against #1 overall seed LAFC and were eliminated from the playoff competition.

#3 Ajahni Carter (LB) – Carter is a very athletic fullback who was constantly up and down the flank all game in this one. Defensively Ajahni is extremely confident in 1v1 situations, hardly ever giving his opposing winger time nor space. With continuous technical development you could definitely see Ajhani being used to ‘overload’ numbers in the midfield and play an inverted role when necessary.

#11 Philip Biskupski (RW) – Biskupski is a tricky left footed winger who shines the brightest taking defenders on 1v1. His service in this game was quality and also showed great combination play with the rest of his attacking partners.  Philip will continue to develop in this TFC system and has a ‘true’ footballing brain to take him very far. 

Game 5: Toronto FC U17 (#2 seed) vs  Charlotte U17 (#31 seed)

TFC U17 lost this game 3-1  against #31 overall seed Charlotte FC and were eliminated from the playoff competition.

TFC Standout: 

#5 Pablo Patrick-Galvez (CB)– TFC ended up losing this game to Charlotte but 2007 born Pablo was one of the few bright spots. Patrick-Galvez is strong in the tackle and his big frame is impressive (especially when he could technically be playing with the U16s).  Tactically Pablo is extremely advanced and made it look very easy when he broke down Charlotte’s press by either breaking lines with passes or beating them on the dribble. We don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves but Pablo might be a bonafide pro in a few years.   

Game 6: Toronto FC U19 (#12 seed) vs  Real Colorado U19 (#21 seed)

TFC U19 lost this game 1-1 (4-3) in penalty kicks against #21 overall seed Real Colorado and were eliminated from the playoff competition.

TFC Standout: 

#2 Kundai Mawoko (RB) – Normally with TFC 2 it was a treat to see Kundai play his age group in this event. Mawoko was always joining the attack and created many chances for TFC’s U19’s with great service from wide areas. Mawoko is very athletic and showed a fantastic ability to beat defenders 1v. You can just tell by playing in a pro environment he was just so advanced tactically in this one.

Game 7: CF Montreal U15 (#31 seed)  vs  Southern Soccer Academy U15 (#2 seed)

CF MTL U15 won this game 2-0 over Southern Soccer Academy to advance to the Round of 16

CFM Standouts: 

#46 Armand Kadiamba (CM) – Kadiamba is a box to box midfielder, who is extremely confident on the ball. In this one it felt like Armand orchestrated basically every attack for Montreal and found himself in good pockets to receive the ball on the half turn and play forwards. ‘Engine’ is a good adjective to describe Kadiamba and he put on an absolute clinic in a game many thought CF Montreal was going to lose.

#74 Josh-Duc Nteziryayo (CB) – For those of you who are becoming ‘avid’ readers of ‘The Playbook’ you would have noticed that we are really high on Josh. He is big, strong, athletic, very good on the ball for his age. His best quality however might be his 1v1 defending as he hardly gets beat, and not to mention his aerial ability is top-notch. At different points during this game Josh showed us something new by stepping into the  midfield to help his team play out of the opposing teams press. 

Game 8: CF Montreal U15 (#31 seed)  vs Austin FC U15 (#15 seed)

CF MTL U15 won this game 2-1 over Austin FC to advance to the Quarter- Finals

CFM Standouts: 

#80 Owen Graham-Roache (ST) – The target man for Montreal was causing problems for the whole Austin FC backline from start to finish. Where Owen sometimes struggles is his hold up/ link up play but it was great today, and he was able to show off his two strengths which is his speed and strength at this stage of his development. Graham-Roache also took his chance well which helped level this game 1-1 where he showed great composure in front of goal before slotting it home which was huge in helping Montreal advance in this matchup. 

#75 Vitaliy Movchan (LW) – Movchan was brilliant for Montreal against Austin FC and has the technical acumen to play out wide or as a CAM. He caused a lot of problems when running at  the opposing back four and understands the game at an extremely high level. 

CF Montreal U15 Goalkeeper of the Tournament:

(GK) – Jean-Christophe Belzile- Although we missed the rest of CF Montreal’s games in the semi-final and final,Belzile was named goalkeeper of the tournament in the MLS Next Playoffs on the back of amazing performances for CF Montreal U15. The U15’s came into the event as the #31 seed out of 32 teams that qualified  so you can only anticipate how much shot stopping was required from the young keeper.. Allowing no more than 2 goals per game and earning two penalty shootout victories it was an impressive showing for Jean-Christophe. Belzile has fantastic distribution and shot stopping already at his young age and we will be shocked if he doesn’t make the upcoming U15 CMNT squad that is set to have an event later this summer. 

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