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Boys Jul 17, 2015

San Diego hosts best of West Coast, nation and beyond at Surf Cup

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2015 San Diego Surf Cup Schedule

San Diego, Cal., has great weather, beautiful beaches and a rich history. For two weekends every summer, it plays host to one of the premier youth soccer tournaments in the country.

Dozens of top youth teams will gather on Del Mar’s polo fields or at the SoCal Sports Complex to compete in the Surf Cup’s showcase weekend July 25-27, for the U-15, U-16 and U-17 age groups. Each team will play at least three games, with the top finishers going on to play in a bracket, with the championship games scheduled for July 27.

The Surf Cup is one of the highlights of its season for teams like the FC Golden State U-16 boys, who are excited to showcase their talent in front of some of the nation’s top college programs, against some of the nation’s top competition.

+Read: Stock rising for U.S. U-18 MNT keeper, Georgetown commit JT Marcinkowski

“Every year, this is what we look forward to,” FC Golden State Gold Head Coach Fabian Sandoval said.

The FC Golden State club will send five teams to compete in the U-15 through U-18 divisions of the tournament. Three of those, including Sandoval’s, will play at the U-16 level. The club is based in the Los Angeles area, just a few hours away from San Diego, but its players and coaches will still be treating the Surf Cup as a road game.

“The commute can get pretty bad,” Sandoval said. “What we do is we have our boys stay overnight and compete.”

A nearby team staying in a hotel rather than at home may not seem like a big decision, but it speaks to how seriously FC Golden State and its fellow clubs take the Surf Cup. The decision makes even more sense when the schedule for Sandoval’s team is considered. It will play two matches on the opening day of the tournament, with the first kicking off at 8 a.m. Getting off to a strong start, therefore, is of special importance.

“If you don’t get the result in the first game, now you are obligated to get the result in the second. And if you don’t win that, then you can really almost see yourself out of the tournament by the third game,” Sandoval said.

+Read: Defense leads New York SC U-16 boys to NPL Finals title

Many of the clubs participating in the 2015 Surf Cup call the west coast of the country home. Like FC Golden State, a majority will not need to leave the state of California in order to reach the competition. A few will make the journey across the country from Florida, Maryland or Georgia. A handful of teams, however, will have an especially long journey to San Diego.

Each boys age group includes at least one team from Hawaii. The trip for Maui United SC, which will compete in the U-17 division, is roughly 2,500 miles across the Pacific Ocean. For the Junior Matao players, that flight is nothing but a quick commute. Junior Matao will make the 6,200-mile journey from the island of Guam in order to play in the tournament. For several other teams, including a U-15 squad from Club Tijuana, the distance will not be quite as long but will include crossing the border from Mexico to the United States.

+Attending College Coaches

According to the tournament’s website, helping athletes earn college scholarships is one of the event’s primary goal. Over 400 college coaches and scouts registered to attend last year’s Surf Cup, while coaches from Stanford, UCLA and a host of other California state and private schools highlight a long list of college recruiters attending the 2015 tournament. Out-of-region programs such as the University of Virginia, University of Missouri, Texas Christian University (TCU), Kansas State and University of Michigan will flock to the even as well.

In addition to putting players in the same space as coaches, playing against strong competition is a chance for college hopefuls to prove they can cut it at the next level. As players get older and enter the U-16 age group, recruiting becomes increasingly important. For FC Golden State, this is one of the best features of the Surf Cup.

“Our major goal is to have every player get identified by a university,” Sandoval said. “That is mainly our goal, to play good soccer and showcase [the players’] talent.”

That goal will be shared by most, if not all, of the other teams competing in the Surf Cup’s older age groups. The tournament will kick off July 25, and championship games will wrap up the afternoon of July 27. The U-10 to U-14 ages play the following weekend, August 1-3.