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USA Cup Week-Long Tourney Wrap-Up

2012 July 23
by Aaron Frederickson

Following a successful weekend tournament, play resumed at the National Sports Center as part of the annual Schwan’s USA Cup. While some teams participate in both the weekend and week-long version of the event, many other teams entered play for a taste of the fast-paced soccer action and other attractions as part of the Schwan’s USA Cup.

Day 5: Monday, July 16

Day 5 of the Schwan’s USA Cup did not see any soccer action. Instead, most of the activity was going on behind the scenes. During the course of the day grounds crew could be seen busy working on field re-configuration and cleaning of various NSC campus sites.  The NSC media team was also busy preparing a Kick TV episode and other media related activities.  The Schwan’s Center was also bustling with team check-in.

“It was a low key day, but the staff was pretty much all on,” said Barclay Kruse, NSC Chief Communications Officer. “The only thing that was not happening was (soccer) games were not being played.”

Day 6: Tuesday, July 17

The main highlight of Day 6 is the Olympic-style opening ceremonies of the Schwan’s USA Cup, when players from participating teams are welcomed into the National Sports Center stadium by thousands of cheering fans. This year, over 10,000 players participated in the ceremony, and were led by players from Joplin, Missouri, which was the site of a tragic tornado killing 189 people on May 22, 2011.

This year, the Schwan’s USA Cup staff worked hard to cover the ceremony, which was documented by media intern Madeline Greene who Tweeted throughout the event.

In the past several ceremonies, skydivers from the Twin Cities Skydive Club made their usual aerial arrival. According to Greene, “The skydivers from Twin Cities Skydive were in the air ready to jump, but they had to hurriedly return to the airport due to a ruptured fuel line. The good news is that the plane landed safely and the pilot and the jumpers are all safe. This is the first time anything like this has happened to Schwan’s USA CUP, and we’re looking forward to bringing back the skydivers next year.”

Day 7: Wednesday, July 18

In 1985, Minnesota soccer star Tony Sanneh played with other soccer greats at the inaugural USA Cup, which was then sponsored by The Sons of Norway. While Sanneh and the St. Paul Blackhawks came up a goal short in their quest to win the cup, his dedication to soccer continued. Prior to retiring from his last professional stint with the LA Galaxy, Sanneh founded The Sanneh Foundation, whose principle mission is “to work in partnership with schools and communities utilizing soccer as a tool to cultivate leadership, fight racism, serve the community, and prepare youth for success.”

In years past Sanneh has been directly involved in efforts such as the Kick-It-Back program and the Haitian Initiative. In addition to these efforts, The Sanneh Foundation expanded their efforts this year to include the Schwan’s USA CUP Team Experience. In total, six teams participated and allowed them access to four field sessions with a trainer, team observation during a tournament match by the assigned trainer, and a feedback session to review the match observation with team, and identifying ways to maximize strengths and improve weaknesses.

Tony Sanneh said, “This is a great opportunity to be a part of the USA Cup and help players become better.” Sanneh also noted that the program fit wells with his foundation’s emphasis on leadership, fighting racism and cultural competency.

Barclay Kruse agreed, saying, “The ‘Team Experience fits in with what we are already doing with the tourney nicely.”

Day 8: Thursday, July 19

In the past, the Schwan’s USA Cup was limited to youth players from the U9 through U19 age groups.  However, the 2012 Schwan’s USA Cup saw the addition of an indoor soccer jamboree for youth players from U6 to U8, and the inclusion of Adult Divisions – Men’s Recreational, Men’s Competitive and Adult Coed.

Barclay Kruse noted that the Schwan’s USA Cup Indoor tournament was a work in progress, and fit in well with the overall events. One adult team from Canada even drove to Blaine, MN just to participate in the inaugural event. A total of 16 teams participated in the indoor event.

Day 9: Friday, July 20

One of the unique features of the Schwan’s USA Cup is the many non-soccer events going on during the tournament for players and families.

Jeff Atkins from Lakeville, MN played soccer pool with his sons between USA Cup matches

This year, the usual “fun” events were moved from the National Sports Center Sports Hall to an outside location in front of the new NSC exhibition hall, which hosted the PUMA Worldwide Store.

Some of the activities include beach soccer, “soccer pool,” inflatable obstacle courses, and visits from the Blaine Fire Department and the Minnesota National Guard. Sergeant Bentley, who supervised the MN National Guard’s 30-foot climbing tower said, “The tower is a fun alternative, which is great to do outdoors.” Sgt. Bentley, who has formerly served the United States in the Marine Corps, has been in the Minnesota National Guard for six years and said it would take him “a couple of minutes” to scale the obstacle.  The youth using the tower had a fun time, even if they were not successful in reaching the top.

Sponsored by PUMA, beach soccer has been a mainstay attraction at the Schwan’s USA Cup for several years. This year, PUMA organized a mini-tournament among players, with the winning team taking home a free pair of PUMA soccer boots.

Patiently waiting to participate in the event was Jillaine (U16 girls) from Plymouth Soccer Association.  Decked out in bright yellow custom shirts and black shorts, she and several other teammates were excited to play in the event.  Why play beach soccer?  “We thought the sand would make it easier to play on the field,” she said.

Jeff Atkins from Lakeville, MN, was another person enjoying the great July weather as he played “soccer pool” with his two sons who participated in the Schwan’s USA Cup at the U9 and U12 levels. “This is a great time to get outside and enjoy the sun with my kids, and also get a break from soccer.”

Soccer pool is similar to pocket billiards, except players kick numbered soccer balls into the pockets.

Day 10: Saturday, July 21

Minnesota teams won four of the 16 top-level championships. International visiting teams from Canada , Mexico , Norway and Japan won titles.

Players from around the world converged on the National Sports Center for a chance to win the Schwan’s USA Cup.

This year was also notable for the dominating performances turned in by teams from single international clubs.  The Tokiwagi Gakuen H.S. in Sendai, Japan brought two teams, and both won championships, in the girls’ U16 and U19 divisions. Flor SK, a club from Florø, Norway, came with four teams, and three of them won USA CUP championships, in the boys’ U16, U17 and U19 divisions.

The final day of the tournament was marked by a morning weather suspension for lightning, the fourth lightning delay of the nine-day tournament. Games were scheduled to begin at 7:00 a.m., but because of the suspension, did not start until 9:30 a.m. The schedule was tightened, and games were pushed later in the day.  Here are the scores for Saturday’s games, in the highest flight for each age group:

U 11
Girls: Aurora Stingers Blue, Aurora , Ontario 2, Alaska Eclipse, Fairbanks , Alaska 0
Boys: UNAM Oro, Mexico City , Mexico 4, Cicero Mayas, Cicero , Ill. 1

U 12
Girls: Spartan FC Select, Northbrook , Ill. 5, Full Force FC, Anchorage , Alaska 1
Boys: Eden Prairie Explosion (MN) 2, Cicero Mayas Soccer Academy , Cicero , Ill. 1

U 13
Girls: Maplebrook SA (MN) 2, Dakota Rev Riptide (MN) 1
Boys: Cicero Mayas, Cicero , Ill. 2, Minnesota Thunder Academy (MN) 0

U 14
Girls: NMSC Panthers, Mississauga, Ontario 98 2, Mpls United Premier (MN) 0
Boys: Minneapolis United Black Premier (MN) 2, Brooklyn Italians, Brooklyn , N.Y. 1

U 15
Girls: Minnesota Thunder Academy  (MN) 1, NMSC Panthers, Mississauga , Ontario 0
Boys: Floro SK , Florø, Norway 4, Follo SK , Oslo , Norway 3

U 16
Girls: Tokiwagi Gakuen HS, Sendai , Japan 4, Aurora Stingers, Aurora , Ontario 0
Boys: Floro SK , Florø, Norway 4, Real Cerezo, Wheeling , Ill. 2

U 17
Girls: St Catharine’s Jets, St. Catharine , Ontario 2, Minneapolis United (MN) 1
Boys: Floro SK , Florø, Norway 2, Edmonton Drillers, Edmonton , Alberta 0

U 19
Girls: Tokiwagi Gauken HS, Sendai , Japan 6, Rudbeckianska, Vasteras , Sweden 0
Boys: Floro SK , Florø, Norway 3, Minneapolis United Premier Black (MN) 0

Day 11: Sunday, July 22

This year was my 23rd USA Cup. In the past, I was involved with the tournament as a player, coach and parent. This year I covered the event as a member of the media. The fields at the National Sports Center are no longer filled with soccer players. Parking that was once at a premium is now wide open. Few reminders of the Schwan’s USA Cup remain, expect for PUMA fencing and other portable structures that will be dismantled in the coming days.

See you next year USA Cup!  Click here for more information about the 2013 Schwan’s USA Cup.

One Response
  1. Mark Erickson permalink
    July 24, 2012

    Great wrap-up. Floro won 4 titles, you missed the boys’ U15. In fact, they won 8 because they also swept the Weekend tournament titles. All four teams won all but two games – one loss and one tie. Link to Week championship game summaries: http://www.usacup.org/news_article/show/158364. (I’m employed at NSC – and a Norwegian-American)

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