Thousands attend first youth soccer championship game Friday

Missouri

CREVE COEUR, Mo. – St. Louis County will host US Youth Soccer Midwest Regional Championship games for the first time at Creve Coeur Park Soccer Complex starting Friday.

Plans to host this tournament have been in the works for three years after St. Louis County bid on the opportunity to hold the games

The games are expected to bring 15,000-20,000 visitors the St. Louis area. The six-day event has brought in 242 soccer teams from 14 states in the Midwest.

“The event is estimated to bring more than 10 million dollars in economic impact to the St. Louis region,” said Mike Hayes, Creve Coeur Park Soccer Complex operations manager.

The soccer teams, between 13U and 19U, are competing among their age group and gender to play at the national championship set for July in Florida. 

Due to the storm weather forecast, organizers hope they don’t have to sideline too many games. An early morning rain delay Friday pushed back games by an hour.

“The weather is the one thing we can’t control, we always know it’s a possibility,” Hayes said. 

Since of the soccer fields at Creve Coeur Soccer Complex are artificial turf, the fields don’t get muddy, so soccer games can resume quickly.

“You play a sport that’s outdoors, you’re going to have weather,” said Jim McCarthy, Missouri Youth Soccer Association board president.

He said officials know exactly what to do when there are storms in the forecast.

“They monitor the weather by radar,” McCarthy said.

“If they see lightening in the area, cancel it, let everyone get to their cars so everybody is safe. And when the weather clears, we tell the referees to get back on the field, the players follow.”

 Even with backup plans in place, organizers said they start checking the weather as soon as they can.

“I definitely start looking at the forecast 10 days out, and I’ve been nervous this week,” said Jonathan Meersman, USYS Program manager for Midwest Region Championship.

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