Teams pack NSC Stadium for traditional Tuesday night opening ceremony

More than 10,000 youth soccer players and fans packed the National Sports Center Stadium in Blaine Tuesday night for opening ceremonies at the 28th annual Schwan’s USA CUP.

Blaine Bomb Squad Girls’ U11 team members held their banners high when entering NSC Stadium. Photo by Bill Jones

Blaine Bomb Squad Girls’ U11 team members held their banners high when entering NSC Stadium. Photo by Bill Jones

The colorful team parade prior to the lighting of the cauldron is the only time where all tournament players are in same place.

The parade of teams was led by Midwest United, a team from Joplin, Mo., that has used soccer as a community healing tool. An F5 tornado destroyed much of that city and killed 158 people May 22, 2011.

Top 40 recording artists Chris Rene and Outasight performed during the first Rock the CUP concert.

Paul Erickson, executive director of the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission, presented the 2012 Founders Award to New Brighton residents Tom and Bev Menk, who have volunteered at the tournament since its first year in 1985.

This year’s USA CUP features 958 teams and an estimated 14,000 players representing 22 states and 16 countries. Tournament championship games were scheduled to wrap up Saturday afternoon.

Tim Hennagir is at tim.hennagir@ecm-inc.com


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