Last week our Rush Canada Boys U-13 Blue attended one of the largest tournaments in the United States. The Schwan’s USA Cup is held in Blaine, Minnesota and attracts teams from all over the world. This year over 1100 teams from 19 countries participated in this massive event that included boys and girls from U-9 up to U-18. Our boys were one of 13 Canadian teams entered in this years event and one of only Two Rush teams; the other from Hawaii.
Over 40 U-13 boys teams were entered this year, 17 of them placed into the top tier which is where we were positioned. The tournament is structured similar to a world cup format, with 4 groups all playing one another with the top two from each group progressing to the playoff rounds. Teams play one full length game per day starting on Tuesday with the Semi final and Final taking place on Saturday
Our quarter final match was against CC United from Minnesota who had finished in 2nd place in their group. Playing so early the day before, the quarter final match was scheduled for a 7:00 pm kick off giving the boys ample rest before this elimination game. While exciting, we struggled finding our finishing touch and so it remained scoreless at half time. In the 2nd half the boys continued their momentum from the first half, but this time the boys effort paid off. Thanks to some individual effort from our #10 Pablo Delgadillo, we scored 4 Goals in the 2nd half (3 of which he was part of) completing a well earned 4-0 victory progressing us into the semi final match against the #1 ranked team in the State, Minnesota Thunder Academy (MTA).
The semi final game started at 9:00 am, however due to a clitch with the game card, the game was delayed 25 minutes causing some concern at how this might impact the boys when they do start. Once again our concern vanished quickly as the game finally got underway, we looked confident and in control and if not for a few missed chances we could have easily taken a 3-0 lead within the first 15 minutes. As it turned out, we allowed them to gain some momentum and get into the game so at halftime the score was 0-0. The 2nd half started briskly with chances at both ends, unfortunately after 2 errors in our defensive 3rd MTA were able to score with 20 minutes left to go in the 2nd half, it was our 1st goal conceded and yes a fw alarm bells started to ring. Not unlike the situation we faced at the Robbie Tournament a few weeks ago a goal conceded in such an important match left many wondering if we could recover. We didn’t during the Robbie final, but maybe here we would learn from our mistakes
Still unable to find our finishing touch, tensions were running high, the boys kept their confidence and after many attempts on goal and some strong defensive work from the boys we finally equalised with 5 minutes to play in regulation time. Needless to say there was relief throughout the group (including our parents) allowing the boys to regain their confidence and look to find the winner with little time remaining on the clock. Our boys kept their focus right to the end and finished regulation and extra time tied at 1-1 leading us to the dreaded penalties.
With both teams finishing their penalties perfectly, their 4th shooter missed thanks to what appeared to be our keeper deflecting the ball ever so slightly onto the bar allowing our 5th shooter to score and complete the win!
The cup final was against Esporte Club Pinherios, another team from Brazil. They too were undefeated and had not conceded a goal to this point after beating an Academy from the Cayman Islands 3-0 in their semi final. With the Cup final match delayed 3.5 hours due to a huge storm that rolled past, we weren’t sure how the teams would react given the lengthy delay and field conditions. Although the first half was a little messy for both teams we were up for the game and never looked as if we could not be victorious. Thanks to 3 different goal scorers we completed the impressive streak winning the match 3-0 and walking away with the biggest tournament title to date.
It’s not uncommon for outsiders to praise our attacking options including the depth we have at our disposal in attack, but of the 26 goals we scored during game play, 12 of our 16 outfield players accounted for at least one goal which is a remarkable statistic. Yet with that said, we cannot overlook the effort our defensive unit played providing the foundation for the boys to prevail. Goalkeepers Dante Ferraro and Arsam Shahriary did what they needed to when called upon and Jordon Samuda, Ethan Pacheco, Anthony Stolar & William Sahlas were instrumental in keeping the danger away for most of the tournament. With cameo performances in the back by Pablo Delgadillo and Mikail Shallwani in the Semi and Cup finals due to injuries, our defensive depth is also something we should be very excited about.
I’m so happy for our parents and players to have been allowed to attend an event like this. The memories & friendships developed during the 5 days cannot be understated and is something all teams should be allowed to experience especially at the younger ages. Thank you Rush Academy for your support and openness to allow our players the ability to explore beyond our region and continue their development facing new and unknown opposition.
I would also like to thank the other coaches of Rush, who have supported our involvement with the Academy from day one.
I’m very proud of our players and the Academy we are part of.