Two Juneau Soccer Club squads will be among the 800 teams at the 17th Annual Schwan's USA Cup international youth soccer tournament held July 15-21 at the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minn.
The Juneau Quicksilver (U15 girls) and the Juneau Orcas (U14 boys) will travel to Minnesota for next week's tournament, with the Quicksilver arriving early for the the All-American Girls Tournament held Wednesday through Monday, July 15.
The USA Cup includes teams from 38 states and 16 countries, plus it will feature more than 2,000 games taking place at the 52 soccer fields at the complex located in the Minneapolis suburb.
Until last year, trips to the Lower 48 were rare for Juneau Soccer Club teams. Other than a couple of informal trips about a decade ago, JSC hadn't sent a team outside Alaska until the Quicksilver went to the Diadora Seattle Cup last summer, Quicksilver team leader Leslie Houston said. Most JSC teams considered the trip to Anchorage, Palmer or Fairbanks for the Alaska State Cup their biggest trip of the year, she said.
"We've got 12 returners who went to Seattle last year," Houston said. "We're the first team to really travel. It took us until about our third game before we adjusted to playing on grass and a more physical style. Techincally, I think our teams have a lot more foot skills. In the Lower 48 they play a lot more long balls."
The Quicksilver's trip kindled a traveling bug for Juneau Soccer Club teams. Four other JSC squads will be in the Redmond, Wash., area for this year's Diadora Seattle Cup that takes place Wednesday through Monday, July 15. The teams include a U17 girls squad coached by Noel Shima, a U17 boys team coached by Kerby Wright, a U16 girls team coached by Alexander Hoke and a U15 boys squad coached by Richard Rainery.
The two teams heading to Minnesota are guaranteed at least four games during the USA Cup, and Houston said the Quicksilver will play eight games in 10 days with its two tournaments. The Quicksilver and the Orcas have been practicing against each other and played a scrimmage on Friday. Some of the girls said playing the younger boys is helping prepare them for the rougher style of play they expect after last year's trip to Seattle.
"It was fun," Jordon Cottingham said of the Seattle trip. "The teams were a lot more competitive, but they push a lot more. They have more experience because they play a lot more games. They were a lot more aggressive than we were, and we weren't ready for that."
The Orcas haven't traveled Outside before, but coach David Wetzel said a few of his older players went to Arizona last summer as part of the Alaska Select Team. Even though his team won't get to play in a pre-tournament event like the Quicksilver, he still expects the Orcas to play four or five games.
"They been playing in the State Cup, but this is their first trip Outside," Wetzel said. "But I think we'll do OK. This team is really fast and they play together well. These guys are really playing together, and they talk to each other out there."
The Quicksilver is coached by Doug Badilla, with Houston listed as team leader. The players are Theresa Badilla, Danielle Barr, Megan Bush, Erin Cottingham, Jordon Cottingham, Monica Daugherty, Dierking, Eriksen, Lindsey Heumann, Lynn Metcalfe, Alicia Owens, Jessy Post, Rochele Rodman, Marita Rodriguez, Kokii Stekoll and Erin Thompson.
The Orcas are coached by Wetzel and the team leader is Betty Martin. The players are Robert Slagle, Owen Kelley, Wesley Dinnan, Tyler Dinnan, Robbie Sylvester, Dylan Ashe, Donovan Bell, David Wrightson, Shane Gutknecht, Carlo Ebron, Ed, Eric Gullufsen, Bailey, Gene Lockridge, Matt Walton and Jeff Carpenter.
Rosters weren't available for all four of the JSC teams headed to the Seattle Cup.
Charles Bingham can be reached at email@example.com.