By David Schuman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — One of Minnesota’s signature events is back after a year off due to COVID-19.

The USA Cup youth soccer tournament is welcoming teams from all over the country to Blaine this week. Almost 800 teams from 17 states will participate.

Sara Soli with the National Sports Center says the 700-acre facility will host all the games.

“People are just really happy to be back on the fields,” Soli said. “Parents are happy to cheer their kids on.”

Scott Wade, the team manager for his son Jack’s Minneapolis United team, was thrilled to be back Monday registering the team.

(credit: CBS)

“They didn’t get to play in tournaments last summer,” Wade said. “Typically at this tournament there are over 1,000 teams, you know, in all the age groups, and one of the things the boys love is, in addition to the competition, they trade pins with the other teams. And so they meet lots of different kids, they have a lot of fun.”

COVID removed the international teams from this year’s tournament, but overall, restrictions at the National Sports Center are minimal.

Off the pitch, the tournament is a shot in the arm for the metro’s economy. Soli estimates the event makes a $25-million impact. Down the road at Bricks Kitchen and Pub, assistant operator John Southworth says business this weekend was up more than 25%.

“I’ve heard stories about how crazy it gets in here and I could never put a finger on it until over the weekend, I finally got my first little taste of it, so it’s very cool,” Southworth said.

The tournament’s opening ceremonies are Tuesday. Championship matches are on Saturday.

David Schuman