Madison United's annual President's Cup indoor tournament, which will take over the turf fields at BreakAway Sports Center in Madison and Keva Sports Center in Middleton this weekend, presents an interesting dichotomy.
On one hand, one of the big reasons players and teams keep coming back to the event is its incredible consistency: It's well organized, usually runs on time and is always full of quality teams.
But on the other hand, another thing that makes the tournament so much fun is the unknown.
Teams don't have to file rosters until they check in for their first match, so there's plenty of uncertainty when it comes to trying to get a handle on the strength of teams. For example, a team might have struggled at the President's Cup in the past, but bolstered its roster for this year's event. Or maybe it's the opposite and some key players aren't available this year. Sometimes it's something as simple as a name change. And, of course, there are always new teams making their debut.
While it all usually makes for plenty of intrigue, it makes things challenging for the tournament organizers – specifically Keith Binns and Jamie Brud, who have the task of dividing the 84 teams into competitive groups.
"It's tough balancing out these teams," said Binns, who oversees the three men's divisions. "In the old days, I used to rank the teams A, B and C. Well, now, there's no C teams. There's a ton of As and Bs. First, I try to do it geographically – Madison, Milwaukee, Minneapolis and Chicago. Spread it around. I go back two years and try to make sure they don't play a team they've played before. And then I try to balance them out – we want to give everybody a chance. I put a lot of thought into it."
Inevitably, though, there are surprises.
In 2012, Fox in the Box advanced to the Men's Open final. The next year, the two-time defending champion Madison Fire played in a group with the Cosmos and Zizou, both unknown to tournament organizers. The Cosmos ended up beating the Fire in the final and Zizou, which didn't get out of group play, turned out to be a team from Milwaukee Sport Club - which has won the past two Wisconsin Soccer Leagues Major Division titles.
"We had no idea who they were," Binns said. "So you just never know."
Newcomers in this year's Men's Open field include Touch Play Move, Austin Galaxy FC, Rangers, Girthworms and Club Soccer UW, which plays in the Madison Soccer Association.
"It's kind of exciting to see these new teams," Binns said.
While Chichitas won seven consecutive Women's Open titles from 2003 to '09, the division has provided the most parity in recently: Five teams have won over the past five years. One of those sides, 2012 winner Megna Financial, joined forces with the former Peanut Gallery team to create the Madison 56ers MPG entry this season. Another interesting new team is Women's Soccer Chicago, which Binns said is essentially an all-star team from a league in the Windy City.
"There will be some tough teams – I think it's going to be real tough this year," Binns said of the division.
In the Over-30 competition, the teams that met in the 2013 final are in the same group – with new names. GOL FC formerly were known as FC Tipsy, while The Odd One Out previously was Smoky's Blue Rockets.
The tournament kicks off at BreakAway at 8 a.m. Saturday, and the final matches should conclude at approximately 7 p.m. at both locations. Play starts again at 8 a.m. Sunday at both sites, with the finals at Keva beginning at 6 p.m.
Each team will play two pool matches Saturday and one more Sunday before the single-elimination playoffs – half of the teams in each division qualify for the knockout rounds. This year's field features 32 teams in the Men's Open competition, 24 in Women's Open, 16 in Men's Over-30 and 12 in Men's Over-38.
There are some rule changes for this year's event, the biggest of which involves red cards. While any player who is sent off still will be out for the rest of the game and the next match, his or her team will only have to play down a player for 5 minutes rather than the remainder of the game. The change was in part due to a situation in the Men's Open final last year, in which the teams played 4-on-4 for the majority of the 25-minute game after matching red cards in the 4th minute.
The other rule changes include requiring numbers on players' shirts (though some teams were granted exceptions for this year), moving free kicks for ball played into the nets 2 yards off the wall and editing the rule about slide tackling to explicitly prohibit it. Goalkeepers are still allowed to slide inside their goal box.
Pool scoring format: Win – 6 points. Tie – 3 points. Goals – 1 point, maximum of 3 per game.
Defending champion: Croatian Eagles I (def. Milwaukee Bavarians 4-0 in final)
Playoff schedule: Round of 16 - 1st Lincoln vs. 2nd Adams, 1 p.m., K1; 1st Adams vs. 2nd Lincoln, 1 p.m. K2; 1st Jackson vs. 2nd Jefferson, 1:30 p.m. K1; 1st Jefferson vs. 2nd Jackson, 1:30 p.m. K2; 1st Tyler vs. 2nd Monroe, 2 p.m. K1; 1st Monroe vs. 2nd Tyler, 2 p.m. K2; 1st Madison vs. 2nd Washington, 2:30 p.m. K1; 1st Washington vs. 2nd Madison, 2:30 K1. Quarterfinals, 4 and 4:30 p.m., K1-2. Semifinals, 5:30 p.m., K1-K2. Final, 7 p.m., K2.
|8:30 a.m.||BreakAway 2||Galloping Ghosts||vs.||Rangers|
|9 a.m.||BreakAway 1||Fox in the Box||vs.||Madison United Lions|
|9 a.m.||BreakAway 2||Touch Play Move||vs.||Paradigm|
|9:30 a.m.||BreakAway 1||Madison United Tigers||vs.||Team Northwoods|
|9:30 a.m.||BreakAway 2||Kuykenstrong Dinos||vs.||Club Soccer UW|
|10 a.m.||BreakAway 1||Oshkosh Gold||vs.||Team Miller|
|10:30 a.m.||BreakAway 1||UWO Alumni||vs.||Madison United Blues|
|10:30 a.m.||BreakAway 2||Madison Fire||vs.||Girthworms|
|11 a.m.||BreakAway 1||KFBR 392||vs.||Madison Fire II|
|11 a.m.||BreakAway 2||QC Iowa||vs.||Hamm's Special Light|
|11:30 a.m.||BreakAway 1||Croatian Eagles||vs.||Oshkosh Black|
|11:30 a.m.||BreakAway 2||Red Dogs||vs.||Austin Galaxy FC|
|Noon||BreakAway 1||Hrvatski Orlovi||vs.||Wings SC|
|Noon||BreakAway 2||FC Magic||vs.||Polonia SC|
|12:30 p.m.||BreakAway 1||Cosmos FC||vs.||Fire SC|
|12:30 p.m.||BreakAway 2||Milwaukee Bavarians||vs.||Racine|
|1 p.m.||Keva 1||Fox in the Box||vs.||Oshkosh Gold|
|1 p.m.||Keva 2||Madison United Lions||vs.||Team Miller|
|1:30 p.m.||Keva 1||UW Oshkosh Alumni||vs.||QC Iowa|
|1:30 p.m.||Keva 2||Madison United Blues||vs.||Hamm's Special Light|
|2 p.m.||Keva 1||Oshkosh Black||vs.||Galloping Ghosts|
|2 p.m.||Keva 2||Madison United Tigers||vs.||Red Dogs|
|2:30 p.m.||Keva 1||Croatian Eagles||vs.||Rangers|
|2:30 p.m.||Keva 2||Team Northwoods||vs.||Austin Galaxy FC|
|3 p.m.||Keva 1||FC Magic||vs.||Paradigm|
|3 p.m.||Keva 2||Girthworms||vs.||Wings SC|
|3:30 p.m.||Keva 1||Hrvatski Orlovi||vs.||Madison Fire|
|3:30 p.m.||Keva 2||Polonia SC||vs.||Touch Play Move|
|4 p.m.||Keva 1||Kuykenstrong Dinos||vs.||Milwaukee Bavarians|
|4 p.m.||Keva 2||Racine||vs.||Club Soccer UW|
|4:30 p.m.||Keva 1||Cosmos FC||vs.||KFBR 392|
|4:30 p.m.||Keva 2||Fire SC||vs.||Madison Fire II|
|8 a.m.||BreakAway 1||UWO Alumni||vs.||Hamm's Special Light|
|8 a.m.||BreakAway 2||Madison United Blues||vs.||QC Iowa|
|8:30 a.m.||BreakAway 1||Cosmos FC||vs.||Madison Fire II|
|8:30 a.m.||BreakAway 2||Fire SC||vs.||KFBR 392|
|9 a.m.||BreakAway 1||Hrvatski Orlovi||vs.||Girthworms|
|9 a.m.||BreakAway 2||Madison Fire||vs.||Wings SC|
|9:30 a.m.||BreakAway 1||Kuykenstrong Dinos||vs.||Racine|
|9:30 a.m.||BreakAway 2||Milwaukee Bavarians||vs.||Club Soccer UW|
|10 a.m.||BreakAway 1||Red Dogs||vs.||Team Northwoods|
|10 a.m.||BreakAway 2||Madison United Tigers||vs.||Austin Galaxy FC|
|10:30 a.m.||BreakAway 1||FC Magic||vs.||Touch Play Move|
|10:30 a.m.||BreakAway 2||Polonia SC||vs.||Paradigm|
|11 a.m.||BreakAway 1||Fox in the Box||vs.||Team Miller|
|11 a.m.||BreakAway 2||Madison United Lions||vs.||Oshkosh Gold|
|11:30 a.m.||Keva 1||Galloping Ghosts||vs.||Croatian Eagles|
|11:30 a.m.||Keva 2||Oshkosh Black||vs.||Rangers|
Defending champion: Valley Magic (def. Madison United 3-2 in final)
Playoff schedule: Wild card matches (four games), noon and 12:30 p.m., K1-K2. Quarterfinals, 3 and 3:30 p.m., K1-K2. Semifinals, 5 p.m., K1-K2. Final, 6 p.m., K1.
|9 a.m.||Keva 2||Antique Tap||vs.||Merilappi United|
|9:30 a.m.||Keva 2||The Lost City||vs.||UWW Alumni|
|10 a.m.||Keva 2||Badgerland Supply||vs.||OGT Strikers|
|10:30 a.m.||Keva 2||WSC Majors||vs.||Valley Magic|
|11 a.m.||Keva 1||Ten||vs.||UWO Alumni|
|11 a.m.||Keva 2||WSC MKE Wave||vs.||UWL|
|11:30 a.m.||Keva 1||99 Problems||vs.||FUKO|
|11:30 a.m.||Keva 2||WSC MKE United||vs.||FC Barrington|
|Noon||Keva 1||Madison United||vs.||Knights|
|Noon||Keva 2||Women's Soccer Chicago||vs.||Hasbeens|
|12:30 p.m.||Keva 1||Madison 56ers MPG||vs.||UW Oshkosh|
|12:30 p.m.||Keva 2||Duhawks Alumni||vs.||CRUSA|
|3 p.m.||BreakAway 1||UWL||vs.||Antique Tap|
|3 p.m.||BreakAway 2||Merilappi United||vs.||WSC MKE Wave|
|3:30 p.m.||BreakAway 1||UWW Alumni||vs.||Ten|
|3:30 p.m.||BreakAway 2||UWO Alumni||vs.||The Lost City|
|4 p.m.||BreakAway 1||FC Barrington||vs.||Badgerland Supply|
|4 p.m.||BreakAway 2||OGT Strikers||vs.||WSC MKE United|
|4:30 p.m.||BreakAway 1||Valley Magic||vs.||99 Problems|
|4:30 p.m.||BreakAway 2||WSC Majors||vs.||FUKO|
|5 p.m.||BreakAway 1||Madison United||vs.||Women's Soccer Chicago|
|5 p.m.||BreakAway 2||Hasbeens||vs.||Knights|
|5:30 p.m.||BreakAway 1||CRUSA||vs.||Madison 56ers MPG|
|5:30 p.m.||BreakAway 2||UW Oshkosh||vs.||Duhawks Alumni|
|8 a.m.||Keva 1||Duhawks Alumni||vs.||Madison 56ers MPG|
|8 a.m.||Keva 2||CRUSA||vs.||UW Oshkosh|
|8:30 a.m.||Keva 1||Hasbeens||vs.||Madison United|
|8:30 a.m.||Keva 2||Knights||vs.||Women's Soccer Chicago|
|9 a.m.||Keva 1||FUKO||vs.||Valley Magic|
|9 a.m.||Keva 2||99 Problems||vs.||WSC Majors|
|9:30 a.m.||Keva 1||FC Barrington||vs.||OGT Strikers|
|9:30 a.m.||Keva 2||Badgerland Supply||vs.||WSC MKE United|
|10 a.m.||Keva 1||The Lost City||vs.||Ten|
|10 a.m.||Keva 2||UWW Alumni||vs.||UWO Alumni|
|10:30 a.m.||Keva 1||Merilappi United||vs.||UWL|
|10:30 a.m.||Keva 2||WSC MKE Wave||vs.||Antique Tap|
Defending champion: Keeper Goals (def. Madison Fire 2-1 in final)
Playoff schedule: Quarterfinals - 1st Reagan vs. 2nd Ford, 3 p.m. B1; 1st Clinton vs. 2nd Roosevelt, 3 p.m. B2; 1st Roosevelt vs. 2nd Clinton, 3:30 p.m. B1; 1st Ford vs. 2nd Reagan, 3:30 p.m. B2. Semifinals, 4:30 p.m., B1-2. Final, 6:30 p.m., K2.
|8 a.m.||BreakAway 1||The Odd One Out||vs.||Vilas Rangers FC Vipers|
|8 a.m.||BreakAway 2||Smoky's Red Rockets||vs.||Chivas|
|8:30 a.m.||BreakAway 1||Vilas Rangers FC||vs.||Smoky's United|
|10 a.m.||BreakAway 2||Madison Fire||vs.||VSLT FC|
|1 p.m.||BreakAway 1||GOL FC||vs.||Beer FC|
|1 p.m.||BreakAway 2||Keeper Goals||vs.||Bottoms Academy|
|1:30 p.m.||BreakAway 1||Milwaukee Kickers SC||vs.||DC Menace|
|1:30 p.m.||BreakAway 2||Rock Vegas||vs.||Luigi's Pizza Menasha|
|5 p.m.||Keva 1||The Odd One Out||vs.||GOL FC|
|5 p.m.||Keva 2||Beer FC||vs.||Vilas Rangers FC Vipers|
|5:30 p.m.||Keva 1||Keeper Goals||vs.||Vilas Rangers FC|
|5:30 p.m.||Keva 2||Bottoms Academy||vs.||Smoky's United|
|6 p.m.||Keva 1||Smoky's Red Rockets||vs.||Milwaukee Kickers SC|
|6 p.m.||Keva 2||Chivas||vs.||DC Menace|
|6:30 p.m.||Keva 1||Madison Fire||vs.||Rock Vegas|
|6:30 p.m.||Keva 2||Luigi's Pizza Menasha||vs.||VSLT FC|
|11:30 a.m.||BreakAway 1||GOL FC||vs.||Vilas Rangers FC Vipers|
|11:30 a.m.||BreakAway 2||Beer FC||vs.||The Odd One Out|
|Noon||BreakAway 1||Keeper Goals||vs.||Smoky's United|
|Noon||BreakAway 2||Bottoms Academy||vs.||Vilas Rangers|
|1:30 p.m.||BreakAway 1||Smoky's Red Rockets||vs.||DC Menace|
|1:30 p.m.||BreakAway 2||Chivas||vs.||Milwaukee Kickers SC|
|2 p.m.||BreakAway 1||Madison Fire||vs.||Luigi's Pizza Menasha|
|2 p.m.||BreakAway 2||Rock Vegas||vs.||VSLT FC|
Defending champion: Milwaukee Bavarians (def. Forest City Kickers 6-2 in final)
Playoff schedule: Wild card matches (two games), 2:30 p.m., B1-B2. Semifinals, 4 p.m., B1-B2. Final, 6 p.m., K2.
|9 a.m.||Keva 1||Madison United||vs.||Hooligans|
|9:30 a.m.||Keva 1||Forest City Kickers||vs.||Inter Madison|
|10 a.m.||Keva 1||Bares United||vs.||St. Charles Celtics|
|10:30 a.m.||Keva 1||Keeper Goals||vs.||OFL Chicago|
|2 p.m.||BreakAway 1||LG Celtics||vs.||Juventus|
|2 p.m.||BreakAway 2||FC Gherkin||vs.||Milwaukee Bavarians|
|2:30 p.m.||BreakAway 1||Keeper Goals||vs.||Inter Madison|
|2:30 p.m.||BreakAway 2||Forest City Kickers||vs.||OFL Chicago|
|6 p.m.||BreakAway 1||Milwaukee Bavarians||vs.||LG Celtics|
|6 p.m.||BreakAway 2||Madison United||vs.||Bares United|
|6:30 p.m.||BreakAway 1||FC Gherkin||vs.||Juventus|
|6:30 p.m.||BreakAway 2||Hooligans||vs.||St. Charles Celtics|
|11 a.m.||Keva 1||FC Gherkin||vs.||LG Celtics|
|11 a.m.||Keva 2||Milwaukee Bavarians||vs.||Juventus|
|12:30 p.m.||BreakAway 1||Madison United||vs.||St. Charles Celtics|
|12:30 p.m.||BreakAway 2||Bares United||vs.||Hooligans|
|1 p.m.||BreakAway 1||Forest City||vs.||Keeper Goals|
|1 p.m.||BreakAway 2||OFL Chicago||vs.||Inter Madison|