The USA Cup is one of the largest youth soccer tournaments in the world held every July and last month two local teams performed very well in the 2021 edition.
The AYSO St. Croix Falls Region 1437 team in the 19U B Silver bracket won its first five matches before losing in the final. Meanwhile, the 17U team, named Northwest United, advanced all the way to the semifinals before falling in the 17B Silver region.
Why are these results impressive? In 2019, the tournament welcomed 1,152 teams from 22 U.S. states and 20 countries, so it shows this isn’t just a regional tournament that is played at the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minnesota.
The 19U team was a mix of Minnesota and Wisconsin teenagers with three from St. Croix Falls (Austin Jones, Hayden Schill and Joey DeLuca), two from Siren and Barron along with one from Dresser (Sean Archibald). On the Minnesota side, there is one from Marine on St. Croix (Matt Folden), Pine City and Chisago City respectively.
“It was pretty cool,” said AYSO Regional Commissioner Jessica Hagen. “Our kids loved the experience.”
The 19U team started its tournament run with a 5-2 win over Byron, then blanked Sartell and New Prague over its next two games. The quarterfinal match against Pine Island saw an offensive explosion as they registered seven goals. The semifinal game against Urban Ventures was a nail biter, but they prevailed 3-2. The final match was against Joy of the People with the St. Croix Falls team, falling 6-3. The team was coached by Matt Brice and Adan Popoca.
The 17U team was made primarily of Wisconsinites with only one from Minnesota. Two came from Chetek and Springbrook along with Cumberland, Spooner, Dallas, Ashland, Almena, Barron and St. Croix Falls (Matt Dreger).
They started their tournament run with a 3-1 win over LUFC Eagles. They then prevailed in a shootout over CR United. A 3-2 win over Southeast Soccer and 5-4 win over Twin Cities Rush 5-4 win over Twin Cities Rush advanced them to the quarterfinals where they faced the Rush again.
And for the second time in two days, they defeated the Rush, this time by a 5-2 score. The semifinal match saw a rematch against CR United, with the United winning 2-0. The team was coached by Kurt Dreger.
Hagen highlighted the growth soccer has had in the St. Croix Falls/Osceola area over the years as one of the factors for results seen in the USA Cup.
“I love how welcoming Osceola has been for soccer,” she said. “It’s been so cool.”