Youth Soccer Teams Play Hard in Brooklyn Bridge Cup

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The Brooklyn Bridge Cup brought 28 youth soccer teams to the turf at Brooklyn Technical High School’s field in Fort Greene last weekend. The fourth annual soccer tournament, hosted by Young Rock Soccer Academy, was combined with a sidewalk festival for the first time this year, featuring music, food and entertainment.

“The Brooklyn Bridge Cup and Block Party, was an incredible experience,” said Gabrielle Napolitano, the chief organizer of the event. “The combination of soccer, music, food and community really made for a great time. There was something for everyone. It was great to see all the kids smiling ear to ear whether their team won or lost.”

Teams from every borough, excluding Staten Island, fielded a team in the tournament, which predominantly featured kids from Brooklyn. While the field was alive with soccer action, the sidewalks surrounding the area were booming with live music performed by City Billies, Sashimani, Audra Rox and Rolie Polie Guacamole.

On the field, play began on Saturday with teams competing in divisions of eight and under (U-8), ten and under (U-10) and twelve and under (U-12). Nine teams played in the U-8 and U-12 divisions while 10 teams played in the U-10 tournament.

By days end on Saturday both the U-8 and U-10 divisions were down to four semifinal teams. The U-12 division needed a play-in game with Greenpoint Williamsburg edging Downtown United 1-0.

For kids not involved in the tournament, there were organized activities with Ogo Sports, fitness and training with Long Island University sports science department and a member of the New york Red Bulls street team performing freestyle tricks. Among those in attendance, New York Cosmos soccer team sent two of their coaches, Alecko Eskandarian and Jack Gaeta, to show support for the event.

“It was a great time for the Cosmos to re-connect with the community and especially grow the fan base again with the help of Brooklyn soccer,” Erik Merritt, an executive for the Cosmos, said. “This event is definitely a great avenue to continually grow the sport within the New York-area.”

Sunday morning, after the semifinals were set, the final matches were played. The U-8 final went into penalty kicks after being tied at 0-0 after regulation. Forest Park edged out Brooklyn Athletic, with Hubert Fryzel delivering the winning penalty kick. The champions represented Queens impressively allowing only one goal in regulation and winning both games on Sunday in penalty kicks.

Forest Park also captured the title in U-10 with a 1-0 victory over Soccer Fun for Kids. The lone goal was scored by Dominick Fryzel, the older brother of Hubert. U-12 action ended with a 2-0 Central Brooklyn win over FC Amsterdam.

“It was a great pleasure participating in the Young Rock Brooklyn Bridge Cup soccer tournament in 2013 and the experience was so great we are definitely going to be back in 2014,” said Central Brooklyn coach Dario Trujillo after his victorious day.

Napolitano organized the days activities with the help of Young Rock Soccer Academy co-directors Musa Kadiri and Magnus Mukoro. The tournament has grown greatly since its inaugural weekend in 2010. With great local support, including the soccer programs at St. Francis College Brooklyn and St. Josephs College New York, downtown Brooklyn is becoming a hot spot for youth soccer.

Michael Randazzo contributed reporting.