The draw for the boys Minnesota State Cup has been made with the opening kick-off at Isanti Soccer Complex to take place on Monday, April 24.
The competition will undoubtedly be fierce in each age group, bar the under 19s where St Croix advance to the regional’s unopposed.
The initial series of games will comprise of play-in games as each club vies to make it through to the group phase where they will be guaranteed three games apiece.
In the under 13’s, Minnesota Thunder North will meet Edina S.C. for the last remaining spot in Group A that already includes St Croix, Minnesota Thunder West and Prior Lake SC in what promises to be a competitive section.
Group B comprises of Plymouth Soccer Club, Minnesota Thunder East and Minneapolis United. They will be joined by the winner of Dakota Rev and Blackhawks.
Those group games begin on April 30.
The top two in each group will qualify for the semi-final where the winners of Group A will meet the runner-up in Group B, while the Group B top club will take-on Group A’s second place.
The under 14 section also gets underway on April 30 as there are no play-ins. There will be three groups of four with each winner advancing to the semi-final while the best runner-up will secure a wildcard berth.
Minnesota Thunder Elite won last year’s under 13 title and will be hoping to step-up and claim this title.
They have been drawn in Group A alongside Minnesota Thunder West and St Croix and Blackhawks. Group B matches Lakeville FC, St Paul United, Eagan Wave and Edina while Group C comprises of Woodbury SC, Minneapolis United, Plymouth S.C. and Maplebrook.
The Group A winners will meet wildcard opposition in the semi-final while the winners of Groups B and C will do battle for a place in the championship game.
The under 15 competition begins on April 25 with a play-in between Dakota Rev reserves and Blackhawks and the winners will book their place in Group C alongside Plymouth, Woodbury and St Louis Park.
This grade is much like the under 14s in that there are three groups with a wildcard berth also up for grabs, with the semi-final pairings also identical.
On paper Group A looks the strongest as it features last year’s under 14 winners, Minnesota Thunder East, who are joined by Minnesota Thunder West, St Croix and Dakota Rev while Group B is home to Edina, Minneapolis United’s first and second string as well as White Bear.
The make-up of the under 16 competition has the same format again and Wayzata and Rebels S.C. get things underway with a play-in on April 25 to decide who joins St Croix’s firsts and seconds as well as Eden Prairie in Group C.
Group A is made up of Minnesota Thunder Academy (2010 under 15 champions), Edina, Blackhawks and Valley United while North Suburban Soccer, Minnesota Thunder West, Burnsville Fire and North Metro Soccer do battle in Group B.
Shattuck-St Mary’s will be many people’s favourites for the under 17 title and they have been pitted against Minnesota Thunder West, Minneapolis United and Valley United in Group B that could fall under the banner of ‘Group of Death’.
Last year’s under 15 winners St Croix lead the way in Group A and are joined by Forest Lake, Eagan Wave and Minnesota Thunder West.
Once again there are three groups and B is made up of Minnesota Thunder West, Minneapolis United, Shattuck-St Mary’s and Valley United, with all games to begin on May 7.
The under 18 competition takes on a straight knockout format as there are just seven clubs involved. Minnesota Thunder Elite firsts get a bye into the semi-final where they will meet the winner of their second string and Plymouth.
On the other side of the draw, St Croix and Blackhawks meet to decide who will play the winner of Bloomington Youth and Northern Lights in the second semi-final, with all quarter-final games to be played on April 25.
This year’s competition at all grades promises a feast of soccer and will hopefully draw large crowds to each game. With the competition sure to be fierce, the excitement has already started to build as all clubs countdown to the big kick-off next month.