Soccer: Blast U19 team wins USA Cup championship
The Brainerd Blast U19 girls soccer team won the USA Cup championship following a shootout July 22 at the National Sports Center in Blaine. The Blast started play with a 1-0 loss to Vardar United of Michigan in pool play. They then defeated Minne...
The Brainerd Blast U19 girls soccer team won the USA Cup championship following a shootout July 22 at the National Sports Center in Blaine.
The Blast started play with a 1-0 loss to Vardar United of Michigan in pool play. They then defeated Minnesota Thunder Academy 4-2 and Tri County United 7-1.
For finishing in the upper half of their pool, they advanced to the A playoff bracket. In that bracket, the Blast defeated Denfeld 7-0, Euro FC 3-2 and South St. Paul 6-1 to earn a rematch with Vardar for the championship.
Trailing 1-0 at half, the Blast answered with three goals over 20 minutes to take a 3-1 lead. Until that point, Vardar had not been scored on all tournament. Vardar countered by scoring with 10 minutes remaining.
The Blast held them off until one second left in the game when a hand ball in the box gave Vardar a penalty kick on which they capitalized to tie the game 3-3 and send it to overtime.
Overtime finished in a draw as well and the game was determined penalty kicks in a shootout. After seven rounds of PKs, the Blast secured the championship.
The USA Cup, the largest international youth soccer tournament in the Western Hemisphere, was founded in cooperation with the Sons of Norway in 1985.
The first year there were 78 teams. This year's tournament featured 1,168 teams from 17 states and 15 countries, making it the largest youth soccer tournament in the Western Hemisphere. In 2016, the tournament had teams from five continents. Referees also come from all over the world to officiate thousands of games.
The tournament is played in July every year at the NSC. It also now includes a weekend cup tournament prior to the week-long tournament.