Superior soccer visited Colorado this week to create a perfect storm that most people missed. This was an opportunity to learn from top international teams from Germany and Mexico. The handful of coaches, players, and fans who witnessed Colorado Cup 2016 will remember seeing something special, and they will mark their calendars for next year.
If it was good enough for Shkëlzen Gashi to come watch, then it was probably good enough for you.
Colorado Cup 2016 included two international club teams with games at Switchbacks Stadium and Cadet Soccer Stadium. Mainz 05 finished sixth in the Bundesliga, enough to earn a spot in the UEFA Europa League and the attention of serious soccer fans. Mainz 05 beat Switchbacks FC 6–0 on Tuesday and finished 1–1 in regulation against Leones Negros before winning the spot-kick shootout, 4–3, at the United States Air Force Academy on Wednesday.
The stadiums were woefully quiet on both nights, although Leones Negros fans deserve credit for making extra noise to speak for the empty seats. Soccer fans missed more than two great performances from superior teams. The coaches from Mexico and Germany also conducted clinics for children, another low turnout that turned treat for the tutored tots.
VIDEO: Thankfully, Switchbacks head coach Steve Trittschuh and Rapids jefe Pablo Mastroeni did not miss the opportunity to gain on-field knowledge from the top of the Bundesliga. Listen to Trittschuh explain how the MLS and USL coaches cooperated for this international friendly by adding Dominique Badji and Conor Doyle to the roster. Another Rapids player on loan, Joe Greenspan, was more Admiral than Ensign in the center of defense for Switchbacks FC. Hear from former Rapids player Davy Armstrong and current Rapids attacker Conor Doyle while watching footage from Mainz 05, Leones Negros, youth soccer camps, training sessions, and other highlights from the week.
The message of the Colorado Cup was clear, and it can echo for years once the media and fans realize they’re sniffing pearls with their snouts. Simply showing up to one of the games is arguably worth coaching license credit, but the lessons went much deeper than a standard pair of games to watch. More than a dozen Directors of Coaching attended the Mainz 05 training session on Monday morning, and the video presentation inside the Field House from Martin Schmidt and his staff was truly illuminating. These coaches learned new information and reinforced what they already knew.
I would not be able to share this story without Justin Rose, the engine behind Colorado Cup 2016 and Funding One’s Freedom. From Mainz 05, the media crew was stellar and professional. Warm, active, and accurate, Silke interviewed almost everyone with a connection to Mainz. Toby bossed like a good boss does. Two guys named Daniel (“It’s a volcano. No, it’s not a volcano.”) made me feel extra welcome. Thanks a metric ton.
Here are a couple 05er.tv episodes that include my clips (with apologies to the editors who had to weed through the footage):