by Pete Richmire

TACOMA, WA. – The Soccer Tournament in Cary, NC is a seven a side competition of a five-day span in which teams compete for a $1,000,000 winner-take-all prize. MASL and Tacoma Stars players competed strongly last season and this year’s tournament will attract a larger number of players from the indoor side of soccer. Last year’s tournament was won by Newtown Pride, a team consisting of mostly MASL players.

The tournament gives outdoor soccer a bit of a twist with teams competing with seven players on the field, opposed to 11 and an unlimited number of substitutions allowed. A game is two, 20-minute halves and there are no ties. A game ends in an “Elam Ending” manner, or once a team hits the “target goal number.” This means a team which is trailing at the end of regulation can still win the game by hitting the target goal number first.

Last year’s tournament consisted of 32 teams, a number which will grow to 48 this season comprised of 12 four-team groups in the opening round. This year, fans from around the world can watch games live with some being broadcast on ESPN+ and many available on the TST website. In all, over 70 players from the MASL will be represented on 19 teams.

The Tacoma Stars have raised their level of participation not only in the number of athletes taking the field, but also by co-sponsoring the Sneaky Fox FC team which reached the semi-finals before being eliminated by the eventual champion Newtown Pride squad. Sneaky Fox swept their way through the group stage, including a 3-0 shutout against Team Dempsey which was put together by MLS star Clint Dempsey.

Stars General Manager and Sneaky Fox FC player Nick Perera was impressed with last year’s tournament and looks forward to this week’s competition. He said, “Last year’s inaugural TST event was top class: the facilities were incredible; the teams were extremely competitive and the national attention it garnered was second to none in the American soccer landscape. This year it’s going up a notch. Last year proved the undeniable ability of the indoor talent pool beyond the arena, and this year our Tacoma Stars players are well positioned to represent the club and the MASL. I believe we have a larger spotlight on our program, as evidenced by seeing 11 of last year’s players at this year’s edition of TST, and it’s a source of immense pride that the Stars will partner with Sneaky Fox FC and its incredibly talented cast.”

This year’s team will feature four Stars players. Along with Perera will be Chris Toth, Jamael Cox, and Tyler John. Joining them from the MASL will be Guerrero Pino from the San Diego Sockers. With this lineup, Sneaky Fox FC will have a multiple MASL MVP award winner and scoring champion in Perera playing in front of the reigning, and four-time MASL Goalkeeper of the Year in Toth.

Other Tacoma Stars players from last season in the tournament are Alessandro Canale (Trident SC), Alex Caceres (Saturdays Football), Fellipe Souza (Saturdays Football), Luis Birrueta (Saturdays Football), Matt Braem (Pasha Luxury FC), Mike Ramos (Tranqui10 FC), and Nani Mendoza (Tranqu10 FC).

A couple of players Stars fans will recognize from the team’s extended win-streak last season will also be competing at TST. Justin Stinson will be suiting up for Newtown Pride FC and Concafa SC will have the services of Stefan Mijatovic. Both players were on loan to the Stars from the Empire Strykers and have returned to the Empire roster.

Fans will be able to watch the games online and broadcast information will be announced prior to games beginning next week.

The opening-round game schedules have already been released and squads featuring Stars players are scheduled on (all times Pacific):

Sneaky Fox FC

Wed    June 5 10:15 am vs Pacha FC – (3-2 WIN)

Wed    June 5 7:00 pm vs Kwikgoal FC – (1-4 LOSS)

Thu     June 6 5:45 pm vs Tranqui10 FC – Live on the TST Website

Concafa SC

Wed    June 5 5:30 am vs Reggae Rovers (1-4 LOSS)

Wed    June 5 4:00 pm vs Nati SC (6-1 WIN)

Thu     June 6 4:15 pm vs Burnley

Newtown Pride FC

Wed    June 5 7:00 am vs DC Hyper (4-0 WIN)

Wed    June 5 2:15 pm vs Supra United (2-0 WIN)

Thu     June 6 8:30 am vs Zala (4-1 WIN)

Prasha Luxury FC

Wed    June 5 10:15 am vs Sneaky Fox FC (2-3 LOSS)

Wed    June 5 7:00 pm vs Tranqui10 FC (3-2 WIN)

Thu     June 6 5:45 pm vs Kwikgoal FC

Saturdays Football

Wed    June 5 7:15 am vs Desimpedidos (3-1 WIN)

Wed    June 5 3:00 pm vs Wrexham Red Dragons (0-1 LOSS)

Thu     June 6 2:00 pm vs FC Roha Eagles (2-3 LOSS)        

Tranqui10 FC

Wed    June 5 10:15 am vs Kwikgoal FC (3-9 LOSS)

Wed    June 5 7:00 pm vs Pasha FC (2-3 LOSS)

Thu     June 6 5:45 pm vs Sneaky Fox FC

Trident SC

Wed    June 5 7:30 am vs Hoosier Army (1-6 LOSS)

Wed    June 5 3:45 pm vs Freedom United SC (2-6 LOSS)

Thu     June 6 4:30 pm vs Georgetown Alumni