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Player luncheon kicks off 2012 US Youth Soccer National Championships in Rock Hill, S.C.

 
Top 60 teams in the United States are ready to prove their talent

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CHARLOTTE (July 24, 2012) - The 2012 US Youth Soccer National Championships, presented by the National Guard, officially began today as more than 1,900 players, coaches, referees, officials and administrators gathered for the Player Luncheon at the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, N.C. Sixty teams from the across the country have earned the right to play for the national crowns, in Under-14 through Under-19 Boys and Girls age groups, and were honored today for their accomplishments through the annual Players Luncheon. 
 
The National Guard's partnership with US Youth Soccer is focused on enriching the soccer experience by positively influencing players and coaches in areas of leadership and character development while adding a strong presence of American pride.  
 
Videos from Luncheon:
This is where you become a champion [link]
 
Doug Echols, Mayor of Rock Hill, S.C., host to the national championships at Manchester Meadows, and NSCAA President Ralph Paulson welcomed those in attendance and commended players for their hard work and persistence to reach this point.
 
"In life there are memorable moments in time. This is one such moment for you," Echols said. "I’m confident that you will experience genuine Southern hospitality from our more than 400 volunteers and I hope you enjoy every minute of this event."
 
Paulson emphasized the tremendous achievements of the teams and players participating in the National Championships.
 
"You are our soccer future," Paulson said. "In this room we have future collegiate starts, professional players and national team members. The names you hear this week are the same names you’ll hear in the future of U.S. Soccer."
 
US Youth Soccer President, John Sutter, also addressed the players saying, "The competition this week will be extraordinary. It will be top team against top team. The prize is nothing less than a coveted national title, to have your name inscribed on one of these trophies and a gold medal hanging around your neck. I know each one of you will want that gold medal, but the reality is you are all champions already."
 
Former U.S. National Team and US Youth Soccer standout, Paul Caligiuri gave the keynote of the luncheon. Caligiuri, former member of the Men’s National Team and US Youth Soccer player himself commended the players on their dedication to teamwork.
 
"I’ve had a lot of opportunities in soccer, playing in the World Cup, signing a contract with the Bundesliga, but I get choked up when I think about the opportunities you have here," Caligiuri said. "Seated in this room are players who are going to be on the cover of magazines someday like Clint Dempsey and Hope Solo. You represent the elite. But these opportunities don’t come individually, they come to teams. As a national team player we’ve all been through what you’re going through and have been part of the US Youth Soccer family. This experience is awesome. Savor it."
 
The National Championships Player Luncheon peaked with excitement as the audience watched a highlight video tracking their successes at the four Regional Championships and from National League play.  All videos shown at the luncheon will be available this afternoon on the official event website, http://championships.usyouthsoccer.org.
 
The final ascent to the national championship for these teams begins with round robin play Wednesday, July 25 with games at 7:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. ET. Preliminary games continue Thursday and Friday at the same times. National champions will be crowned on Saturday, July 28 and Sunday, July 29.
   
The 2012 US Youth Soccer National Championship Series is the country's most prestigious national youth soccer tournament, providing over 185,000 players on more than 10,000 teams from US Youth Soccer's 55 State Associations the opportunity to showcase their soccer skills against the best competition in the nation while emphasizing teamwork, discipline and fair play.
 
The tournament consists of US Youth Soccer Regional Champions in the U-14 through U-19 Boys and Girls age groups as well as the US Youth Soccer National Leaguequalifiers in the Under-15 through Under-17 Boys and Girls age groups to complete the field of 60 teams.
 
Each year brings about new challenges and highlights the motivation and commitment of these youth players as they continue pursuing their dreams of being one of the best youth soccer teams in the country. The national championships are the final step of the US Youth Soccer National Championship Series and open to any US Youth Soccer member. The U.S. Soccer Federation initiated the open youth championships with the James P. McGuire Cup (Under-19 Boys), the oldest trophy in youth sport, in 1935. Since its creation in 1974, US Youth Soccer has added 11 divisions to the national championship tournament, most recently with the U-14 and U-15 Boys and Girls divisions in 2001 to reach the current format.  
 
The Under-19 Boys James P. McGuire Cup final will be broadcast live in HD on Saturday, July 28 with pregame coverage beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET, leading into kickoff at 8 from Manchester Meadows. Dean Linke and Charlie Slagle will be calling the action.
 
Annually the US Youth Soccer National Championship Series provides the nation's top collegiate coaches with the premier stage to identify and scout the most coveted players in the country. In 2012 more than 600 coaches attended the US Youth Soccer Regional Championships.
 
Daily reports and complete results from the tournament and daily video updates will be available on http://championships.usyouthsoccer.org. Keep up to the minute with US Youth Soccer National Championship Series on Twitter.

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About the US Youth Soccer National Championship Series – The US Youth Soccer National Championship Series provides more than 10,000 teams from US Youth Soccer's 55 State Associations the opportunity to showcase their abilities against the best in the nation while emphasizing teamwork, discipline and fair play. The yearlong competition begins with over 185,000 players in the US Youth Soccer State Championships.  These champions and selected wildcard teams, through US Youth Soccer Regional Leagues, advance to compete in one of four the US Youth Soccer Regional Championships. Champions (U-14 through U-19) from each regional event advance to the US Youth Soccer National Championships.  The Under-15 through 17 Boys and Girls age groups have two teams representative of the US Youth Soccer National League, in which the top two teams in each gender age group earn a direct path to the national championships. Overall the US Youth Soccer National Championship Series provides the nation's top collegiate coaches with the premier stage to identify and scout the most coveted players in the country.
 
Media Request: When referring to the US Youth Soccer National Championship Series, the most prestigious event in youth sports, please refer to the event as US Youth Soccer National Championship Series on first reference and National Championship Series on anything thereafter. Never refer to as NCS or USYS NCS. We appreciate your cooperation.

About the United States Youth Soccer Association (US Youth Soccer) –
US Youth Soccer - "The Game for ALL Kids!®" is the largest youth sports organization in the country and largest member of the United States Soccer Federation, the governing body of soccer in the United States. US Youth Soccer registers more than 3 million players annually, ages 5 to 19, and over 900,000 administrators, coaches and volunteers in 55 member State Associations. US Youth Soccer programs provide a fun, safe and healthy environment for players at every level of the game. For more information, visit www.USYouthSoccer.org.
 
Media Request: When referring to the United States Youth Soccer Association, the largest youth sports organization in the United States, please refer to the association only as US Youth Soccer, and never as USYS or USYSA. We appreciate your cooperation.
 

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