Schwan’s USA CUP 2017 has attracted soccer teams from 15 different countries, but three more nations are represented on the pitch at the Western Hemisphere’s largest youth soccer tournament. Guest players from Indonesia, the Netherlands, and Denmark have traveled from across the globe to re-connect with old friends, put their soccer talent on display, and experience all USA CUP has to offer.
Kiana Feldis (right) moved to Jakarta, Indonesia last year, but is playing for her hometown team from Anchorage, Alaska at USA CUP.
For Kiana Feldis, USA CUP represents an opportunity to rendezvous with her hometown teammates. Feldis is originally from Anchorage, Alaska, where she played for Cook Inlet Soccer Club (CISC) in last year’s USA CUP.
Although she still proudly wears the CISC kit, Feldis is no longer a full time member of the team but is instead registered as a guest player. Just a few months ago, Feldis received the news that she would be moving halfway across the world to Jakarta, Indonesia when her father accepted a job in Southeast Asia.
“I played with them before and I missed them. My coach invited me to play with them again this year,” Feldis said.
Feldis acknowledged that her new base in Jakarta could not be more different than her Alaskan home. Jakarta is the capital of Indonesia with over nine million residents, compared to the 300,000 people that brave the wintry conditions in Anchorage.
“I like it a lot. It’s hot and there’s a lot of traffic, but I definitely enjoy it there,” Feldis commented.
When asked what the biggest challenge has been related to her overseas move, Feldis responded, “the language probably. I speak a little bit, but I am still just starting to learn.”
Marie Thomsen and her brothers Gustav and Frederik from Holbaek, Denmark are guest playing for North Metro Soccer Association at USA CUP.
Feldis feels at home again with her CISC Velocity team where she is able to communicate with no issues, allowing her to share her arsenal of stories and new experiences in Indonesia with her former teammates and close friends.
The language barrier, however, is a little more difficult for Gustav (U14), Marie (U12), and Frederik (U16) Thomsen, who arrived from Holbaek, Denmark for USA CUP early this week. The Thomsen siblings are joined by Holbaek resident, Christian Halvorson (U19), to round out this year’s Danish delegation.
Marie kept it simple in her response to why she wanted to play to play at USA CUP: “Because I love soccer.”
The Thomsen siblings hosted an exchange student from the Twin Cities earlier in the year, which inspired their participation in USA CUP.
“Our exchange student’s family has four kids who play here. We thought it would be fun if we could play in USA CUP too, and they arranged us as guest players. We all wanted to play soccer in the USA,” said Marie.
All three Thomsen siblings are guest playing for North Metro Soccer Association, the local club where their exchange student’s siblings all play soccer.
“I really like it. It’s so cool,” Marie said about USA CUP. “We play matches and have fun. The opening ceremonies were really awesome too.”
Marie is not the only guest player on her North Metro Blitz U12 team. Isabel Espinach is the only Costa Rican girl to travel to USA CUP, and plays alongside her Danish teammate for North Metro.
“My brother from Costa Rica came here with his team. I also play soccer but no girls teams from Costa Rica were coming here, so my dad signed me up,” Espinach said.
Isabel’s twin brother, Alejandro, hoisted the trophy at the USA CUP weekend tournament when his team from the Lincoln School in Heredia, Costa Rica won the U12 boys B flight championship. Isabel will hope to pick up some hardware of her own tomorrow.
“It has been fun to play against teams from all over; it’s great competition,” Isabel said.
Kevin Rutgers from the Netherlands is at his second USA CUP playing for St. Croix in the U19 division.
The final piece of the international guest player puzzle comes in the form of Kevin Rutgers, a U19 player from the Netherlands. This is Rutgers’ second year at USA CUP, where he expands on his role as a player by helping out in the tournament’s transportation department, as well as greeting international teams and referees arriving at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport.
“Even if you’re not playing, there is so much excitement around the tournament and everyone is so happy. It makes it fun to be a part of,” Rutgers said.
Rutgers rejoined his 2016 USA CUP team from Sporting St. Croix this week, participating in a scrimmage with the team to reacquaint himself with his teammates before competition began. Rutgers’ St. Croix squad advanced to the semi-finals of the U19 playoffs with a win this afternoon, and hope to wrap up the title with two wins Saturday.
Although joining a team for just one week a year can be challenging, these seven international guest players have had no issue enjoying themselves at USA CUP, making new friends and thriving on the pitch for their host teams.
Tag(s): July 21, 2017