The Opening Ceremony Tuesday evening is the highlight of the Target USA CUP experience. Amid the hustle and bustle of games and on-campus activities, the opening ceremony is a rare opportunity for participants to get a scope for the magnitude of the tournament and how special USA CUP can be.
Opening Ceremony will be held Tuesday night at the NSC Stadium. It is an Olympic-style event, with teams parading through the field organized by country, state or Minnesota soccer club. Players can wear their team uniforms or cultural clothing representing their homeland, making it a unique opportunity for participants to experience other cultures. The parade leads up to the lighting of the cauldron, which officially marks the beginning of the week-long tournament.
“The coolest part for me is that everyone is in one spot at one time,” Kelli Goodrich, Target USA CUP team recruiter said. “Tons of different languages, the country flags, the unique cultural apparel that they wear, it’s just a really cool experience for everybody.”
Teams will line up at 5 p.m. outside the stadium on Field 63, which is behind the Super Rink. The preshow starts at 6:30 p.m., followed by the parade of teams at 7 p.m. In its first year as the title sponsor of USA CUP, Target is bringing special guest: the corporation’s mascot Bullseye, who will be on the field before the players walk out.
Seacoast United and North Kingstown Soccer Club, from Maine and Rhode Island respectively, will lead the parade as the teams from the 49th and 50th states to be represented in USA CUP. Minneapolis-based singer and actor Carolyn Schmitz will then sing the national anthem, followed by our skydiving event. Former MLS and USMNT defender Jimmy Conrad will be jumping out of a helicopter and parachuting onto the field.
“That is always everyone’s favorite part every single year,” Goodrich said. “They’re landing in a field with 10,000 people, which doesn’t normally happen at most stadiums; usually they’re just on an empty field. It’s pretty cool that the skydivers are landing 20 feet from us.”
Finally, the LEAD Monrovia Football Academy U15 girls’ team will march across the field to light the cauldron.
“We always try to pick a team that has a bit of a background story,” Goodrich said. “They’ve never really been anywhere out of their country, so it was an awesome experience for them to be able to come here.”
Goodrich has a tip for any players who will be participating in their first Opening Ceremony.
“The best part of the event is the kids interacting with each other, so I think they need to go and talk to as many countries and states as possible,” she said. “They’ll meet people and trade a million pins … You never know when you’ll come back to USA CUP, so you have to take advantage of it while you’re here.”
Opening ceremonies are free and open to the public. Do not miss the chance for a memorable experience!