This is a fever dream for soccer, or a fever nightmare depending on what team you root for. The Soccer Tournament, or TST for short, was announced this week as a 32-team showcase taking place in early June in North Carolina. Based on The Basketball Tournament, it’s a winner-take-all, 7-on-7, $1 million event featuring celebrities, and high-profile retired professionals, with competitors coming from several parts of the globe to participate. Let’s get weird with some of these matchups!
Let’s start with Borussia Dortmund, the German giants who are currently fighting for a Bundesliga title, facing Hoosiers Army, a group of Indiana soccer alumni. Rounding out Group A are Newtown Pride FC, a small club team from Sandy Hook, Connecticut, and Kingdom FC, a team organized by Cody and Paulie Califiore, the former soccer-playing brothers best known for multiple stints on Big Brother and The Challenge. Nothing says preparing for next season’s UEFA Champions League like that trio of opponents. It gets weirder.
Wrexham will face off with USWNT alumnae
America’s darling Wrexham A.F.C., who would get smashed by every Major League Soccer team, will face competition from the United States. Who exactly, how about alumnae of the United States women’s national team? Yup, captained by longtime USWNT defender Heather O’Reilly, the squad full of women who represented their country at the highest level will go face-to-face with Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney. It’s the soccer crossover we never knew we wanted. Also in Group E is second-division Italian side Como, with player-coach Cesc Fabregas. The former Arsenal and Chelsea star is part of the team’s ownership group when not putting on his cleats again. A few other professional teams are participating in TST as well including Premier League sides Wolverhampton and West Ham United, Club Necaxa from Liga MX, Hapoel Tel Aviv from the Israeli Premier League, and Charlotte FC from MLS.
Famous faces from the USMNT will also be involved
There are also several teams with United States men’s national team alumni participating. USMNT legend Clint Dempsey, alongside former Yanks’ teammates Eddie Johnson and Jermaine Jones are in Group G. One of the most anticipated games of the group stage will be their showdown with Sneaky Fox FC, led by former USMNTer Mike Magee with star-studded teammates Landon Donovan, Nick Rimando and Alan Gordon. A third team in Group G will have USMNT representation with AJ DeLaGarza and Lee Nguyen on Zala FFF. In Group B, Blade & Grass FC will be led by recently retired Stars and Stripes alumni Brek Shea and Geoff Cameron.
Group F might be the most unique of the bunch with Conrad and Beasley United having the most recognizable soccer stars in the group of former USMNTers DaMarcus Beasley and Jimmy Conrad, alongside Canadian legend Dwayne De Rosario. Hashtag United will be a bunch of social-media stars coming together and Gracie FC will be the Brazilian first family of jiu-jitsu putting their soccer skills to the test. Rounding out the group is Nati SC, a group of players that helped Cincinnati FC reach the MLS from the lower levels of American soccer with special guest star Chad “OchoCinco” Johnson. This will be an entertaining four days, I have no doubts.