USA Cup Weekend Tourney Wrap-Up
The 27th annual Schwan’s USA Cup Weekend and Week-Long youth soccer tournament kicked off in Blaine, MN under bright skies and the usual sultry mid-July weather. This year’s tournament featured teams from 16 countries, 22 states and 66 Minnesota club teams. During the 11-day event, 958 teams and over 14,000 players will compete for one of the most coveted prizes in youth soccer—the USA Cup.
This year event organizers at the National Sports Center have offered players from U8 through adult teams the complete soccer experience, thanks in part to its many sponsors including Schwan’s and PUMA. Here is a sample of some of the events that comprise the Schwan’s USA Cup Weekend experience.
Day 1: Thursday, July 12
Although no USA Cup matches were played on this date, the festivities were kicked off at the National Sports Center stadium field where the Minnesota Stars FC hosted the Tampa Bay Rowdies in a North American Soccer League regular season match-up. In the match, Martin Nuñez and Kentaro Takada scored for the Stars, as they cruised to a 2-1 victory in front of an energetic crowd.
Leading the Stars to victory was Woodbury, MN native Brian Kallman, who was appointed vice-captain for the 2012 season and was wearing the captain’s armband due to an injury to Stars captain Kyle Altman. Kallman played for the Minnesota Thunder from 2006-09 and then with the Stars since their inception in 2010. He was also a USA Cup participant in his youth soccer playing days. Kallman was also designated as the IMS Soccer News Man of the Match.
Day 2: Friday, July 13
In addition to the rich diversity of players from around the world, the USA Cup also hosts international referees to cover the countless matches during the 11-day event. One of the many international referees this year was Ian Berry from Liverpool, England. Berry has been officiating soccer since 1983 and has officiated soccer up to semi-professional leagues in England. According to Berry, “Friends of mine who have been here before said that I should come and officiate at the USA Cup. I have been coming here for 10 years and I love the experience.”
Richard Washington from Jamaica is a referee who made the trip for his first time to be a part of the complete soccer experience. Washington has been officiating soccer for eight years at a variety of youth and professional levels in his home country. Washington had the honor of working as an assistant referee during the girls U16 vElite match and enjoyed working with a crew that represented Brazil, Scotland and also had a fellow Jamaican. According to Washington, “This is a great experience and I am enjoying my time in Minnesota.” Like Berry, Washington also commented that the tournament hosts are very welcoming and the hospitality is exceptional.
Day 3: Saturday, July 14
Volunteers play an important role in the USA Cup. One such volunteer is Shawn Ahlers from Fargo, North Dakota. According to Ahlers, he started volunteering at USA Cup in parking services through a high school group. After several years, he requested a position in field services and has been working as a medical technician since 2007 “It is a lot of fun,” said Ahlers. “It is a nice way to practice my medical skills without having to worry about all the paperwork or having to sit in the truck.” Ahlers in his 11th year as a USA Cup volunteer and works as a supervisor for a pharmaceutical research firm and as an EMT.
USA Cup is always looking for volunteers to assist in tournament preparations. Click HERE to find out more about volunteer opportunities at the USA Cup.
Day 4: Sunday, July 15
The fourth day of the USA Cup saw more action and the crowning of the Weekend tourney champions. The featured division this weekend was the PUMA vElite division, an invitational division for elite U16 teams from all over the country. This year, Minnesota was represented in the vElite finals by Dakota Rev (girls) and Minnesota Thunder Academy (boys).
In the girls bracket, the Dakota Rev girls squared off against the Southern California Blues. In the match, the So Cal Blues capitalized off a breakdown in the Rev back line to score the only goal of the match. Notwithstanding the loss, Dakota Rev head coach Tobias Thorsell was proud of his players. “We enjoyed the experience tremendously. We played one game at a time and knew the competition was going to be good.” Thorsell continued, “I am extremely proud of the team.” Thorsell also noted that he has been working with some of the girls since they were playing U10 soccer and expressed gratitude to his players’ hard work over the years.
Larry Draluck, Head Coach and co-founder of the So Cal Blues (San Juan Capistrano, CA) was excited his team won, but also expressed sincere appreciation for the Dakota Rev players and coaches. According to Coach Draluck, it was a hard match with the heat and playing in front of a crowd dominated by Dakota Rev supporters. He did note that the Rampage players worked hard and just came up short. “We are trying to teach the players to be good people—good human beings, first, then students, then good soccer players,” said Coach Draluck. “If they end up playing soccer and they are not good people, what good are we as coaches doing?”
The girls from the Blues earned a trip to work with Sweden’s famous Umeå IK women’s side. Umeå has won seven Swedish championships since 2000 and have won the UEFA Women’s Champions League twice while serving as runner-up three times.
On the boy’s site of the vElite bracket, Minnesota was represented by a select team of players from the Minnesota Thunder Academy and was coached by Rob Zahl. MTA came up short against La Roca Premier 96 (Layton, Utah) in fast-paced match that was decided by penalty kicks. La Roca’s title earned them an all-expense paid trip to England to train with the English Premier League team from Newcastle United.
Weekend Tournament Results
Three Minnesota teams won titles, the Princeton Tigers in 12 girls, North Star S.C. in 13 girls, and the Centennial Cougars in 14 girls. Here are the Weekend championship results for the “A” divisions in each age level:
Girls: Rockford Raptors, Rockford, Ill. 3, FC United Storm, Cedar Rapids, Iowa 1
Boys: Mundelein Strikers, Mundelein, Ill. 3, Elgin Pumas, Elgin, Ill. 2
Girls: Princeton Tigers (MN) 4, Winnipeg South End United, Manitoba 2
Boys: South Suburban Academy, Chicago, Ill. 3, Mundelein Strikers Red, Mindelein, Ill. 1
Girls: North Star S.C., (MN) 3, Rochester Youth S.C., (MN) 2
SSC Strikers, South Sioux City, Iowa 4, Thunder Bay Chill, Ontario 3
14 Girls: Centennial Cougars (MN) 2, Dakota Rev Revenge, (MN) 1
14 Boys: Brooklyn Italians, Brooklyn, N.Y. 4, South Suburban Academy, Chicago, Ill.
Girls: Bettendorf S.C., Bettendorf, Iowa 2, FC Northwest, Winnipeg, Manitoba 0
Boys: Floro SK, Floro, Norway 3, PRHPSA, San Juan, Puerto Rico 2
Girls: So Cal Blues, Rancho Capistrano, Calif. 1, Dakota Rev Rampage (MN) 0
Boys: La Roca Premier, Layton, Utah 3, Minnesota Thunder Academy, (MN) 2
Girls: Caledon Wildcats, Caledon, Ontario 2, Eagan Wave (MN) 1
Boys: Floro SK, Floro, Norway 3, Dakota Alliance SC, Sioux Falls, S.D. 2
Girls: Appleton Goal Getters, Appleton, Wisc. 3, Hub City SC, Aberdeen, S.D. 0
Boys: Floro SK, Floro, Norway 2, Dakota United SC, Bismarck, N.D. 1
Girls: Tokiwagi Gauken H.S., Sendai, Japan 4, Rudbeckianska, Vasteras, Sweden 0
Boys: Floro SK, Floro, Norway 6, Minnesota Thunder Elite, (MN) 1