OVERLAND PARK, Kan. - Soccer has taken over the Kansas City Metro area and not just in terms of next week’s Sporting KC hosting the MLS All-Star game.
This week, the U.S. Youth National Championships are in Overland Park, Kan., and some of the best soccer players in the country are competing in the heart of “Soccer Country.”
It’s only fitting the tournament is being held in Overland Park as the town is known as the “National Mecca of Soccer.”
Sarah Krause traveled to Overland Park with her team from Cleveland, Ohio. She's hoping to take home a national championship.
"It's really unbelievable. We just work so hard every day, every practice, to just compete to get to this spot, and to compete and win," Krause said.
She's just one of more than 2,600 players, coaches and officials participating in the championships this week.
"Between Sporting Kansas City, the MLS, the colleges around here, and the growth of the youth game, this complex stays busy pretty much twelve months out of the year," said Mike LaPlante of the Overland Park Soccer Complex.
That's about $7 million for the local economy, half of which is expected to come from this tournament.
But Nic Bauer of Springfield, Mo., isn't thinking about that. He’s hoping his closer ties give his team a leg up.
"I'd say I probably played here over thirty times. It's a little bit of a home field advantage. We know the fields; it's not a far drive so we don't have the sore legs associated with that," Bauer said.
These games are free to the public so the complex is expecting hundreds of people locally to watch some of the games.
At the end of this tournament, they're expecting about 20,000 people to have come through the complex gates.
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