Mon February 13, 2017 USL Toronto FC II--TFC II’s Uccello Armed and Ready for Qualifying (from

TFC II’s Uccello Armed and Ready for Qualifying
By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 02/13/17, 12:46PM EST 

Midfielder taking on leadership role for Canada heading into CONCACAF U20 Championship

Leading the side out in the Estadio Agustín Muquita Sánchez in Panama last month, 
a major sense of pride swept over Canada U20 Men’s National Team midfielder 
Luca Uccello.

Handed the captain’s armband for the contest against their Panamanian counterparts, 
the Toronto FC II standout embraced the opportunity to continue the leadership role 
he’s taken for the team in the build-up to the 2017 CONCACAF U20 Championship.

“It was probably one of the best experiences of my life,” said Uccello. “Anytime you 
can lead your country and push on with them, it’s great. I’m trying to be a leader 
as best I can with the U20s and being one of the most experienced guys on the team. 
It’s always good to be a leader, and I’ll be looking to push on the guys in the next 
couple of weeks.”

As one of the older members of the squad, Uccello’s leadership role with the 
Canada U20s has mirrored his position with Toronto FC II, for which he has 
made 42 regular-season appearances in the USL over the past two seasons. 
His 20 appearances this past season included three goals and two assists 
as he split his time between club and country duties.

The opportunity to compete in the USL has meant a lot to Uccello, and his TFC II 
teammates, four of whom are joining him in Costa Rica on the Canadian squad.

“Being with TFC II has helped me so much,” Uccello said. “Being in the USL, 
it’s a good league that is physical, and there are some smart players and great 
teams in there that can help you develop as a player. Being young still, 
obviously the goal is to make the first team, but the USL has helped me so much, 
and it’s helped a lot of people in Toronto FC II, and it’ll just keep going.”

Uccello has taken the armband for TFC II as well, which has helped foster his 
leadership skills for the young squad. The dedication he has shown on and off 
the field has made an impression on those around him.

“Luca, I look at him like an older brother,” said Canada and TFC II teammate 
Shaan Hundal. “He puts in a lot of work, has a lot of heart, and I’ve learned 
a lot of things from him on and off the field. He’s a great role model.”

That leadership will be crucial as Canada looks to reach the FIFA U20 World Cup 
for the first time since hosting the tournament in 2007. The side has been 
successful in its build-up, which has taken it to Panama, Mexico and its opening
group stage opponent Honduras in recent months.

The Canadians were able to come away with a 2-1 win and a 0-0 draw on the road 
against the Hondurans last November, which has given them confidence for Friday’s
tournament opener. The contest, which precedes meetings with Mexico and 
Antigua & Barbuda in the group stage, is likely to prove crucial in Canada’s 
hopes of advancing.

Uccello believes the side is well placed in its bid to reach South Korea in May.

“I think ultimately it’s just preparation and hard work,” said Uccello. 
“The coaches are all going to have a game plan that we’re all going to have 
to follow, and if we apply that correctly as we did against Honduras a couple 
of months ago when we got a couple of good results in Honduras, if we follow 
the game plan the coaches say, and ultimately if we perform to the level we’re 
capable of, anything is possible.

“I think all games are winnable games, and we’ll be looking to qualify for the 
World Cup following that game plan. We’re excited and ready to go.”

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