As family and friends filed into NSC stadium and teams from around the world line up for the parade – the 32nd annual Schwan’s USA CUP was minutes away from Opening Ceremonies.
Getting the fans up and off their feet, and adding a little pre-ceremony action to the field, a horse and sulky from Running Aces Casino and Racetrack darted across NSC stadium, marking the first time a horse has ever been on NSC Stadium the field.
Minnesotans are proud of their strong state leadership, and from the days of Governor Rudy Perpich, the National Sports Center has had champions in government.
Two of the leaders who spoke during the Opening Ceremonies were current Lieutenant Governor for the state of Minnesota Tina Smith and US Senator Amy Klobuchar.
As Klobuchar’s speech ended, Olympic-style fanfare led into many kids’ favorite part of Opening Ceremonies, the parade of teams, where all 673 teams playing in the weeklong tournament teams were introduced upon entering NSC Stadium.
The 2016 parade was led by winners of the Schwan’s Cares About Soccer sweepstakes, the Cheyenne Sting girls team from Cheyenne, Wyo. These girls excitedly entered the stadium, showing off their grand prize—a check from Schwan’s Cares, which will reimburse their tournament fees.
Following Wyoming, the Blaine Soccer Club, the National Sports Center’s home club, paraded 35 teams through the Inaria tunnel.
This included U12 Girls teammates Brooke Anderson and Evelyn Canfield, who wore red, white and blue tu-tus and star crowns.
“We actually made these tu-tus!" said Canfield.
The parade also featured U16 Girls Sherwood Park Phoenix from Edmonton Canada. These girls sported matching baseball caps with the signature maple leaf across the front.
“I loved [Opening Ceremonies] and getting to see all the different teams,” said Phoenix team member McKayla Brault after the parade. “I am excited to play soccer against new teams I would never get to play in Canada.”
Another international team, who came to represent their home country of Mexico, was the U19 Boys Lobos Buap.
Teammates Norman Vargas and Raúl Castañón showed off their festive sombreros and pride-bearing flag which represented not only their country, but their fútbol club as well.
This year the country with the largest delegation of international of teams is from Mexico with 21 teams. This is the 30th year that a team from Mexico has played in USA CUP.
As the parade came to an end, the U19 Girls Gonzo Soccer, another of the 21 teams from Mexico, led the final procession as torch bearers.
The crowd erupted as the cauldron lit up the evening sky and fireworks burst into the air, marking the beginning of the 32nd annual Schwan’s USA CUP.
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