Tremendous energy helps electrify magical USA CUP opening ceremony

Through the weekend and opening day of the 29th annual Schwan’s USA CUP the competition has been fierce. Conditions have been seasonably warm with an equally strong passion from the global soccer community.

Members of ACE Soccer Club, Kenosha, Wis. find some relief in the form of water before heading into the National Sports Center stadium for the opening ceremonies July 16. Photo by Jason Olson
Members of ACE Soccer Club, Kenosha, Wis. find some relief in the form of water before heading into the National Sports Center stadium for the opening ceremonies July 16. Photo by Jason Olson

Tuesday evening was the Olympic-style opening ceremonies, featuring the parade of teams dressed in everything from uniforms, national flags, traditional clothes and, of course, special Schwan’s sunglasses.

Members of the North Suburban Soccer Association, NSSA U19 Pheonix, gathered around their teammate, Kyle O’Connor, in their pink jerseys as he took the final torch hand-off before lighting the cauldron. O’Connor’s mother recently lost a lengthy battle with cancer and the team wore pink all season to show their support for him and his family. The procession included nine torch bearers including O’Connor.

Rock the CUP followed the cauldron lighting ceremony as Jeremiah James Korfe led the crowd in a rousing concert on the field to conclude the evening.

New this season, a medallion hunt was underway offering a different clue each day. The prize for finding the golden medallion is an iPad.

Minnesota country music singing Jeremiah James Korfe signs autographs. Members of ACE Soccer Club, Kenosha, Wis. find some relief in the form of water before heading into the National Sports Center stadium for the opening ceremonies July 16. A member of the North Metro Soccer Association looks for more water in the staging area before the parade of teams at the opening ceremonies at USA CUP Tuesday evening in Blaine. The USA CUP torches final hand-off went from Breast Cancer Awareness Assocoation founder and cancer survivor Ann Harris, left, to Kyle O'Connor, a  North Suburban Soccer Association U19 Pheonix team member, who lost his mother to cancer after a lengthy battle. O'Connor's teammates, clad in pink, gathered near the culdron to show their support. Skydivers brought the official USA CUP flag into the National Sports Center stadium after the parade of teams. A member of the Japanese Tokiwagi Gauken U19 team show their national pride during the opening ceremonies. Danielle Peterson, a member of Blaine Soccer Club's U-19 Pumas team, right, competes with a  Minneapolis United player for the ball during a pool-play game at USA CUP July 16. Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission Executive Director Paul Erickson, right, presents Dan and Vicki Barnes with the Sons of Norway Founders Award for their dedicated service to the tournament. Tiera Salintros, North Metro Soccer Association's U-19 Velocity goalie, right, goes up to make a play on a corner kick by Lakeville Legacy during the opening day of competitions at USA CUP in Blaine July 16.  Members from the Cite Soleil area of the Hatian capital of Port au Prince received one of the loudest cheers as they were introduced during the USA CUP opening ceremonies. The team, supported by Tony Sanneh's Haitian Initiative has been one of the top clubs to watch so far. Iceland was one of three Scandinavian countries represented in the Schwan's USA CUP opening ceremonies Tuesday evening in Blaine. USA CUP was officially opened Tuesday evening after the culdron was lit by North Suburban Soccer Association's U19 boys' team, NSSA Pheonix, player Kyle O'Connor who recently lost his mother to a lengthy battle with cancer. Photos by Jason Olson
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The USA CUP torches final hand-off went from Breast Cancer Awareness Assocoation founder and cancer survivor Ann Harris, left, to Kyle O'Connor, a North Suburban Soccer Association U19 Pheonix team member, who lost his mother to cancer after a lengthy battle. O'Connor's teammates, clad in pink, gathered near the culdron to show their support.

Jason Olson is at [email protected]