The 32-team field is set, the list of participating stars is growing and on Thursday we finally learned the groups for this June's $1 million winner-take-all "The Soccer Tournament" (TST) in Cary, NC.
The World Cup-styled event takes place over four days (June 1-4) at WakeMed Soccer Park with a variant of the game (7-on-7, smaller field, smaller goals, two 20-minute halves with an "Elam Ending," and more) that's sure to bring excitement and plenty of goals.
The draw for the group stage also revealed some pretty fascinating matchups to look forward to. First things first, I took some artistic liberties with the headline: after ESPN and Bleacher Report informed us that Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney would be in Wrexham's squad, it now sounds like they're out.
Still, with Wrexham getting drawn in Group E alongside the US Women, I'm hoping for another U-turn so we see Reynolds and McElhenney going up against Kristine Lilly and Heather O'Reilly.
5 group stage matches to watch at The Soccer Tournament
#1. Team Dempsey vs. Sneaky Fox FC
Thursday, 06/01 at 9:30 p.m. ET
Clint Dempsey's got USMNT legends Jermaine Jones and Eddie Johnson, his two brothers (Lance and Ryan) and then a bunch of guys painstakingly unearthed by Clint himself after a series of tryouts. Sneaky Fox manager Mike Magee has summoned Landon Donovan, Brad Evans, Jay DeMerit, Jelle Van Damme, Kyle Martino, Nick Rimando and U.S. men's beach soccer captain Nick Perera.
#2. Blade & Grass vs. Wolverhampton
Thursday, 06/01 at 5 p.m. ET
The Blade & Grass team features former USMNT players Geoff Cameron and Brek Shea, as well as former Premier Leaguers Emile Heskey, Jordan Stewart, Stephen Ireland and Oumar Niasse. That's a very strong squad. There's no confirmation on who Wolves plan on bringing, but the Premier League team is guaranteed to capture the eye.
#3. Club Necaxa vs. Hapoel Tel Aviv
Thursday, 06/01 at 6:45 p.m. ET
A fascinating meeting between Liga MX and the Israeli Premier League, both clubs are bringing a mix of club legends and academy players. Paulo Chávez (capped 30 times by Mexico) is on Necaxa's roster.
#4. Conrad & Beasley United vs. Nati SC
Friday, 06/02 at 12:30 p.m. ET
Jimmy Conrad, Dwayne De Rosario and Zach Loyd take on Cincinnati legends like Omar Cummings and Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson.
#5. US Women vs. Wrexham Red Dragons vs. Como 1907 vs. Say Word FC
The Wrexham story has captivated the world over the past few months, and they'll be at TST with a TBD squad. Serie B side Como will be led by Cesc Fàbregas. The US Women have got O'Reilly, Lilly, Lori Chalupny, Lori Lindsey and Cat Whitehill. Say Word FC is perfectly positioned as the underdog.
Group E is all must-watch.
- US Women vs. Say Word | Thursday, 06/01 at 12 p.m. ET
- Como vs. Wrexham | Thursday, 06/01 at 1:30 p.m. ET
- US Women vs. Wrexham | Thursday, 06/01 at 8 p.m. ET
- Como vs. Say Word | Thursday, 06/01 at 8:45 p.m. ET
- Say Word vs. Wrexham | Friday, 06/02 at 12 p.m. ET
- Como vs. US Women | Friday, 06/02 at 12:30 p.m. ET