CARY, N.C (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – Today was the start of The Soccer Tournament just outside Charlotte, North Carolina, a variation of The Basketball Tournament, the winner-take-all, million-dollar bracket that started in 2014 and has seen the team of Syracuse Alumni, Boeheim’s Army, host a region and win the whole thing in 2021.
Similarly to TBT, TST has some modified rules, meaning that each game is more closely related to indoor soccer than outdoor, this includes 7-on-7 play, a smaller pitch, 20-minute halves, rolling substitutions, and no offside or slide tackles. The biggest change though comes at the end, after the second half finishes the two teams play to a “target score,” which is the leading team’s sore plus one. This ensures that every game has a winner and that every game ends with a goal. For games to remain fast paced and finish in under an hour, one player is also removed from the pitch every five minutes in target score time.
The tournament began today with 32 teams and there will be two days’ worth of group stage play before it moves to an elimination round. With the teams needing to play three games in two days the contests started early, with the two squads that house Utica City FC players going head-to-head in Group A at 9:30am. Kingdom FC and Newtown Pride FC the home of seven City players, Kingdom with four, Nate Bourdeau, Andrew Coughlin, Gordy Gurson, and Cristhian Segura and Newtown Pride with three, Stefan Mijatovic, who is acting captain on the roster, Issak Somow, and Quenton Swift.
In that first game Mijatovic came just inches from a game-winning assist in target score time, and Kingdom made him pay with a free kick deflection goal that gave them the 2-1 victory. The teams took to the grass later in the day as well playing the remaining two teams in Group A, Newtown playing then 0-1 Borussia Dortmund, the eight-time Bundesliga and one-time Champions League winners led by World Cup winning keeper Roman Wiedenfeller and TikTok star Noah Beck, and defeating BVB 8-0 after Beck and Mijatovic were both ejected shortly into the second half after they engaged in a shoving match. Kingdom got the team Hoosier Army, a squad primarily composed of former Indiana Hoosier men’s soccer stars, including members of their 2012 National Championship winning roster, and played the best game of the tournament so far. After the Hoosiers entered target score time with a 4-2 lead, Kingdom scored two of their own to knot the game at 4, and time ticked away until there were just two players remaining on each side, the goaltenders and one field player. Hoosier Army scored minutes later to win the contest.
Other notable names and teams to know who are participating include Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds’ Wrexham Red Dragons, along with Premier League sides West Ham United and Wolverhampton, MLS team Charlotte FC, the US Womens’ National Team coached by Mia Hamm, Team Dempsey coached by USMNT star Clint Dempsey and featuring former National Team members Jermaine Jones, Eddit Johnson and Chris Wondolowski, and Italian Serie B squad Como 1907, who feature Basketball Hall of Famer Steve Nash.
The tournament runs through June 4th with games streaming on the TST YouTube and Twitter pages and live on NBC Sports.