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What to know about The Soccer Tournament’s return to Cary

Sarah Stephen, left, from Charlotte, and Jordynne Godsey of McDonough, Georgia celebrate after Chelsea scored during the first half of Chelsea Football Club’s friendly match against Wrexham F.C. at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill, N.C., Wednesday, July 19, 2023. The two came just to see the game.

Sarah Stephen, left, from Charlotte, and Jordynne Godsey of McDonough, Georgia celebrate after Chelsea scored during the first half of Chelsea Football Club’s friendly match against Wrexham F.C. at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill, N.C., Wednesday, July 19, 2023. The two came just to see the game.

ehyman@newsobserver.com

Soccer fans are in for an exciting treat next year with the return of The Soccer Tournament to Cary’s WakeMed Soccer Park.

The tournament, a 7-on-7 World Cup-style competition, held its inaugural games over four days this past June, featuring teams from around the world competing for a $1 million prize.

The event drew 35,000 fans to Cary from June 1-4. Newton Pride FC, based in Newtown, Connecticut, took home the prize.

Now, the competition just got more interesting.

In 2024, the tournament will add eight women’s soccer teams that will play for a separate $1 million over four days.

Last year, the 32 teams that played were mostly all men. There was one all-women team, U.S. Women, in the tournament that lost. The team was entered into the competition by North Carolina Courage and former U.S. Women’s National Team player Heather O’Reilly.

The team got tons of support from players and fans, leading to the women’s tournament this year.

“(The Soccer Tournament’s) commitment to a $1 million prize for both men’s and women’s players is incredibly important in our ongoing fight for equal pay,” O’Reilly said in a news release. “This event will be a great addition to the women’s sports landscape, and I can’t wait to take part in it with some of my former national teammates.”

2 tournaments over 6 days

The Soccer Tournament will feature two tournaments, men’s and women’s, with 118 total matches. The 48 men’s teams and eight women’s teams will compete in separate group play and single-elimination knockout rounds.

The event will take place at WakeMed Soccer Park from June 5-10.

When is the women’s tournament? The women’s event will kick off June 7 with two groups with four teams in each.

The two winning teams from the groups will compete in the semifinals June 9 and the winner will be crowned, and paid $1 million, after the championship on June 10.

When is the men’s tournament? The first round of games begins on June 5. The number of teams has expanded from 32 to 48, with teams competing in 12 groups of four on June 5 and 6.

On June 7, 32 teams will move on to knockout rounds with 16 teams remaining. The quarterfinals, on June 8, will feature the remaining 16 teams. Two semifinal matches will be played on June 9 and the winner-takes-all championship game will follow on June 10. The winner of that game will also take home $1 million.

Who is playing in the tournament? Since The Soccer Tournament announced next years event on Monday, there is only one known team to be competing in the event: U.S. Women.

Applications are still being accepted for the open-entry tournament.

In June, nearly 400 teams applied to play in the games which also attracted some big names like Wrexham AFC and star players Chad Johnson, Steve Nash and Clint Dempsey.

On Twitter, O’Reilly called on her former national teammates, Ali Krieger, Julie Ertz and Carli Lloyd, to play in the 2024 tournament. Over the coming months, fans have to see who will answer the call.

The game schedule

A schedule for the games was announced on the Soccer Tournament’s website:

  • Wednesday, June 5: Men’s group stage Round 1 – 24 matches; Men’s group stage Round 2 – 24 matches
  • Thursday, June 6: Men’s group stage Round 3 – 24 matches
  • Friday, June 7: Men’s Round of 32 Part 1 & Women’s Group Stage Round 1 – 12 matches; Men’s Round of 32 Part 2 & Women’s Group Stage Round 2 – 12 matches
  • Saturday, June 8: Men’s Round of 16 – 8 matches; Men’s Quarterfinals & Women’s Group Stage Round 2 – 8 matches
  • Sunday, June 9: Women’s Semifinals – 2 matches; Men’s Semifinals – 2 matches
  • Monday evening, June 10: $1 million Championship Doubleheader

The championship game will be played live on television, according to ESPN. The network host has not been announced.

All season passes are available

Tickets for The Soccer Tournament must be purchased online before the event. No tickets can be bought at WakeMed Soccer Park. This rule also applies to parking passes, which must be bought online.

How can I secure my tickets? Fans can select from a few different ticket options from general admission to VIP through thetournament.com/tst/tickets.

What kind of tickets can I get?

All-session tickets are $399 and allow access to all 118 matches including Group Stage, Knockout Rounds, and the championships. These tickets also offer access to the beer garden, autograph opportunities and access to fields.

Single session tickets, starting at $50, allows fans to see 10 sessions during the tournament and access to stadium fields, the beer garden and autograph opportunities.

For VIP, there are three options: Sevens Club, Cabana Row, and North Suite.

Depending on which package fans get, the VIP tickets include private bathrooms, access to a buffet and bar, indoor and outdoor seating, selected entrances, and intimate views of the games.

More information about the 2024 tournaments can be found at thetournament.com/tst.

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Kristen Johnson is a local government reporter covering Cary and Wake County for The News & Observer. She previously covered southeastern North Carolina for The Fayetteville Observer and spent time covering politics in Washington, D.C. She is an alumna of UNC at Charlotte and American University.



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