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Surf Cup
Surf Cup  | Soccer Tournament, Surf Cup, Youth Soccer, San Diego Sports,

The Surf Cup sign by the entrance says it all, Through these gates walk the Best of the Best. Look at the impressive list of professional soccer players who have competed at Surf Cup.
Tournament News: 2011 San Diego Surf Cup – 31 Glorious Years of Soccer Competition

While there are numerous competitive youth soccer tournaments in Southern California, there are only three of major significance; Surf Cup, Dallas Cup and Disney Cup.  These are the three crown jewels of competitive soccer tournaments in America. 

RELATED ARTICLES: 31st Surf Cup Recap Youngers Weekend and Surf Cup Youngers Day One

"We have had 75 to 100 soccer players who played in Surf Cup that went on to play professionally.  On the current U.S. Women’s National Team: Rachel Buehler, Shannon Boxx, Alex Morgan, Heather O'Reilly, Megan Rapinoe, Amy Rodriguez, and Hope Solo all played Surf Cup. On the U.S. Men's National Team Carlos Bocanegra, Jonathan Bornstein, Michael Bradley, Steve Cherundolo, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, Maurice Edu, Benny Feilhaber, Robbie Findley, Herculez Gomez, Sacha Kljestan, Nick Rimando, and Marvell Wynne, played here too!" says Mike Connerley, Tournament Director of the San Diego Surf Cup.

If you are a new parent to the world of competitive soccer or are just wondering how Surf Cup stacks up against all other tournaments, this soccer tournament is thought of by many to be almost as important as State Cup. 

SN interviewed Mike Connerley, the Tournament Director of San Diego Surf Cup to understand the importance of this soccer tournament.

Now in its 31st year, the San Diego Surf Cup continues to be the best spectacular summer showcase for youth soccer. Surf Cup’s slogan is the Best of the Best and for the last two weekends in July, the San Diego Polo Club in Del Mar abound with soccer players and their families as players travel from across America to compete in this invitation only prestigious tournament.

The Surf Cup is ranked as the #1 soccer tournament in the United States and has a glowing reputation, in part thanks to the motto Mike Connerley established back in 1988: “We never do anything unless it can be done first class, no matter what the cost.”


Originally the San Diego Surf Cup was part of the San Diego Surf Soccer Club and featured 38 teams in five age groups. The original tournament director, Mike Finley, also trained the Surf Boys U-12, coaching future NFL player John Lynch, who made the Pro Bowl for several years.  As the tournament grew, Mike Connerley changed the name to the San Diego Surf Classic and in 1981 approximately 180 teams competed.  

Then, in 1992, the tournament moved the soccer tournament to the San Diego Polo Club in Del Mar and expanded its successful competition to two weekends. In 1993, Surf Cup began turning away teams, only accepting the best of the best. 

Surf Cup annually donates approximately $300,000 to non-profit organizations around the world. In 2010, Surf Cup donated nearly $200,000 to the San Diego Surf Soccer Club. In addition, the tournament offers Surf Soccer Club teams fundraising opportunities which raise an additional $100,000 on average per year.

65% of those fortunate and talented teams competing in this year’s Surf Cup are from out of the Southern California area with teams from more than 25 states participating.  Soccer players are traveling as from Germany to come to San Diego to compete and this is one of the biggest soccer events in the city

Approximately, one out of every two teams that applied was approved to enter this competition.  A total of 368 teams will compete this year; 200 younger teams the first weekend and 168 older teams the second weekend. 

According to Mike Connerley, this year’s Surf Cup is more popular than ever, with an enormous amount of quality applications for the tournament.  “We only accept the best of the best teams from around the county, and perhaps with the economy picking up, more teams were willing to travel this year,” says Connerley.

“Surf Cup is one of the largest youth soccer tournaments on the West Coast and the economic impact is huge for San Diego, says Steve Schell, Vice President, San Diego Sports Commission. “During the soccer tournaments three weekends, the Surf Cup utilizes more hotel rooms than any other youth sporting event in San Diego.”  

In fact, the average soccer tournament in San Diego uses approximately 1,500 hotel rooms for out of town players coming to compete.  The Surf Cup uses 15,000 hotel rooms.  Last year, players traveling to San Diego spent $2.5 million dollars to sleep in our city.  2010’s Surf Cup had a $22 million dollar impact in San Diego.

Schell says, “I have been working with Mike Connerley for the last 17 years and the Surf Tournament has always been the best run, and most professional organization to work with.”

Surf Cup is held during two weekends; the younger players compete July 23 – July 25 and the olders the following weekend, July 30 – August 1st.  The tournament draws the attentions of thousands of spectators and over 300 college coaches and scouts every year.  "Surf Cup is a tournament a lot of college coaches enjoy attending; the competition is great and it is very easy to get around the Polo Fields and identify potential players.  I am proud that Surf Cup has coaches from most of the best D1 colleges attending," says Mike Connerley.

Albert Bru (AB) from Real So Cal says" Surf Cup is a great tournament for exposure to D1 collage coaches, and it is not only the number of coaches who attend but the variety of colleges.  We are sending 12 teams this year and look forward to the competition."

Surf Cup Youngers Competition

Teddy Chronopoulos, Director of Coaching for Cosmos Academy West says, "Surf cup is a fantastic experience for youth soccer players. We have several teams from Cosmos West attending and two teams, U12 and U13 from Cosmos Academy East coming from New York to compete. I am very excited, this will be my first year attending Surf Cup and I looking forward to cheering for our teams." 

“Soccer Tournaments have changes significantly in the past few years" says Connerley. "There is a real strong emphasis now on player development and eliminating the Win at All Costs mentality. The best teams are playing in fewer tournaments than in recent years, especially those who are with the U.S. Development Academy program. The selection process for Surf Cup is tougher than ever and it is hard to decline so many teams who want to come to San Diego to compete in our tournament."  

" I look forward to this time every year and seeing the players and coaches who have attended before, and meeting this year’s newest soccer champions.” 

When Mike Connerley took over the San Diego Surf Cup, he had no idea it would grow to become as successful as it is today, providing ultimate competition and exposure to some of the best soccer players in America.

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