BLAINE, Minn.- (June 28, 2018)- Schwan’s USA Cup is in its 34th year, and throughout its history, it’s brought more than 20,000 soccer teams to Blaine.
“This is an international youth soccer tournament. With teams from 9-year-olds up through 19-year-olds,” said the National Sports Center’s Barclay Kruse.
This year’s tournament is expecting about 1200 teams from 20 states and 20 countries, including teams from three nations that have never visited the tournament before.
“Belgium, Tanzania, and Trinidad, so that’s pretty cool,” Kruse said, “And then we have all the usual suspects Norway, Sweden, Canada of course…Panama will be back. Brazil will be here.”
With all these teams, the National Sports Center will be a busy place.
“The National Sports Center has 50 fields. We’re probably going to be playing about 2,400 games, that’s about what we played last year. We host about 25,000 people a day on the campus,” Kruse said.
Kruse recognizes that with so many people projected to be on campus, traffic and parking will be a challenge.
“Not all 25,000 are here at once,” Kruse said, “At given moment it’s probably about half that.”
Beyond the games on the field, there will be many other off field events for the athletes, including the chance to meet some MLS players. The National Sports Center is working closely with the Minnesota United, players will be visible all week long doing autograph sessions and holding an open training session so the public can watch players practice.
“They’re playing two home games during USA Cup,” Kruse said. “All the USA Cup teams will be given tickets to attend the games.”
Legendary soccer players Kelley O’Hara and Mia Hamm will be on campus on during the tournament to sign autographs for fans.
This year, some of the athletes will get to enjoy the National Sports Center’s new artificial turf fields in the renovated stadium.
“This is the first time USA Cup will be using these artificial turf fields,” Kruse said.
A new community improvement will bring more safety to the athletes and area drivers.
“105th avenue, we are happy to announce, will be completely finished before USA Cup,” Kruse said.
USA Cup kicks off on July 13 and runs until July 21.