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Canadian entry finishes runner-up at US$1-million 7vs7 soccer tournament

The four-day tournament featured 32 teams from eight countries competing in a World Cup-like group stage
Players from Newtown Pride FC celebrate on Sunday June 4, 2023 after defeating Canada’s SLC FC 2-0 in the final of The Soccer Tournament in Cary, North Carolina, a seven-versus-seven soccer tournament with a winner take-all-prize of US$1 million. (Creative X TST photo)

Canada’s SLC FC lost 2-0 Sunday to Connecticut’s Newtown Pride FC in the inaugural final of The Soccer Tournament, a seven-versus-seven competition with a winner take-all-prize of US$1 million.

Kelvin Nunes scored the decisive second goal for the semi-pro team from Sandy Hook, which announced via social media that a portion of its winnings would go to the Newtown Pride FC Scholarship Fund at the Newtown Community Center.

Newtown outshot SLC 21-8.

The four-day tournament at WakeMed Soccer Park featured 32 teams from eight countries competing in a World Cup-like group stage. Sixteen teams advanced to the knockout stage.

The SLC side, which drew on talent from League1 Ontario and the Canadian national futsal team, advanced to the knockout round after finishing runner-up to Israel’s Hapoel Tel Aviv in group play.

SLC won its round-of 16-match over Culture by Mo Ali FC, a team organized by Mo Ali Heydarpour, a soccer content producer and trainer. It then dispatched Blade & Grass FC, formed by Nick Swinmurn, a member of the Golden State Warriors’ ownership group, and former Irish international Stephen Ireland, in the quarterfinal.

The Canadian side advanced to the final with a 1-0 victory over ZALA FFF, a team led by former U.S. international A.J. DeLaGarza.

The SLC side included Joe Di Chiara, Daniel Gogarty, Omar Marzouk, Jerred Phillips, Raheem Rose, Sammy Ssebaduka and Emmanuel Zambazis from Vaughan Azzurri.

Rose was named to the tournament all-star team.

The SLC roster also featured former Toronto Metropolitan University star Abdallah El-Chanti, Canadian futsal internationals Daniel Chamale and Damion Graham, former Ukraine league pro Vitalii Tymofiienko and goalkeeper John Smits, a former FC Edmonton player who is now goalkeeping coach at the University of Toronto.

Other SLC players were Mihai Hodut, Filip Zendelek, Josh Kohn, Kai Martin and Mario Kovacevic.

Competing teams included Germany’s Borussia Dortmund, England’s West Ham and Wolverhampton Wanderers, Wales’ Wrexham and Mexico’s Club Necaxa. The field also featured U.S. Women, a team of former American national team players organized by Heather O’Reilly and coached by Mia Hamm.

Canadian Steve Nash, a former NBA MVP and coach of the Brooklyn Nets, played alongside former Spanish international Cesc Fabregas on the entry from Italian Serie B club Como 1907. Fabregas is a co-owner of Como 1907 while Nash is part-owner of the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Nunes was named tournament MVP after finishing second in scoring with six goals. He was also named to the tournament Best VII alongside SLC’s Rose, Wrexham first-team goalkeeper Mark Howard, former Everton striker Oumar Niasse of Blade & Grass FC, Zala FFF’s forward Lee Ngyuen, Sneaky Fox forward Nick Perera, and Como 1907 midfielder Patrick Cutrone, formerly of AC Milan.

Cutrone was also named the tournament’s Golden Boot winner, scoring seven goals in five games.

The Canadian Press

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