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Crested Butte Kickers gear up for 20th annual soccer invitational

Catch local soccer, er football, action en vivo

Man, did that last goal from Portugal sting. It was the latest regulation goal in the history of the World Cup and left the future of U.S. men’s soccer team at the 2014 World Cup still in flux. In fact, everyone in Group G, the so-called Group of Death, still has a shot to advance, to be determined only on the final day of group play on Thursday, June 26.
Without delving too deep into goal differentials, if the U.S. beat Germany, both the U.S. and Germany advance out of group play. If they tie Germany, both the U.S. and Germany will also advance. U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann is a former stand-out for the German national squad and, with the recent allegations of fraud running rampant throughout professional soccer, could a “fix” be in the works?
A little football history lesson…
There was a similar situation in the 1982 World Cup. In the final match of group play, West Germany faced Austria. The result from the game earlier that day dictated that if West Germany beat Austria 1-0, both Austria and West Germany would advance. As a result, West Germany scored early in the game and the two teams passed the ball around between each other for 80 minutes to ensure their spot in the round of 16.
From that day forward, it was decided that the final games of group play would be played at the same time to avoid such a circumstance.
Klinsmann insists that he has no interest in a “gentleman’s agreement” with Germany.
Turning attention from the global stage to the local stage, believe it or not, the Crested Butte adult coed soccer team is hosting its 20th Annual Coed Soccer Invitational Saturday and Sunday, June 28-29.
The tourney’s energy now is somewhat different from that of its formative years, when mountain ball dominated the local pitches. That’s football-speak for fields. You could always count on Aspen, Telluride, Winter Park, Boulder and Grand Junction to bring in a smattering of talent mixed with athleticism. Every single match, that’s football-speak for game, was anyone’s to win or lose.
But as time progressed, the mountain town soccer mojo dwindled and has been replaced by Front Range club soccer powerhouses.
“We haven’t heard from Aspen or Telluride for a couple of summers now,” says Kickers player/manager Drew Canale.
Boulder still comes to town but brings the heat. Colorado Springs, coach and all, is a perennial participant, taking time from their club schedule to dole out a smack-down. And on occasion, Denver will show up with a coed unit of former male and female collegiate players.
As a result, the tournament finals in Crested Butte typically end up a Front Range showdown.
This year may prove different, or may not.
“It has become a little more Front Range-oriented but this year is a little more even split,” says Canale.
The usual suspects will be in attendance from the Front Range but the local team of Crested Butte Kickers has seen a slight talent surge due in part to the indoor soccer league started two years ago.
While every summer some new hot-shot joins the local ranks, this year no one showed up to bring a spark to the Kickers. Nevertheless, the players who are listed on the roster have played as a unit for the past couple of years and that cohesion may prove advantageous.
“Our team has played together a couple of years now and hung out off the pitch and it shows,” says Canale. “We’re a better team than we were a couple years ago—but we’re still looking for a keeper.”
The Kickers open the weekend Saturday at 9 a.m. at the community school field against Colorado Springs Casual FC.
“We think they may be a little more business casual, not casual like Crested Butte casual,” says Canale.
The Kickers head over to Rainbow Field for their noon match against Winter Park and will then spend the rest of the day and night hoping to “influence” their Sunday morning opponent, Grand Junction.
“A real rivalry has developed with the Grand Junction team and we’ve got a couple gifts for them Saturday night,” says Canale.
As for expectations, Canale says the Kickers are reaching for the stars, with their feet planted firmly in the ground.
“Honestly, our goal is to make the finals and win the whole damn thing,” says Canale. “But really we just want to advance out of our group. If we win that first game, it’ll make everything easier.”

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