Why the College Cup is important 

December, 8, 2010

The College Cup is this weekend, and for Yanks fans, it's worth paying attention to.

For starters, the games should be exciting; three of the final four teams (Akron, Michigan and North Carolina) advanced to Santa Barbara via overtime or penalty kicks, and the fourth, Louisville, won a 5-4 track meet over UCLA with a goal in the final minute.

More than that, the College Cup merits watching because the eyes of U.S. Soccer will be watching -- closely. "College soccer still plays an important role in the sport in this country," says national team coach Bob Bradley. "When you look at Division I, a lot of guys have come out of Maryland in recent years, out from the ACC; you look at UCLA over the years, certainly you see the success Akron has had in the last couple of years. It's pretty clear that a lot of programs still challenge players at a high level, and if you look at the track record, their players are in good position to become professionals."

Bradley and his staff will be observing the action, not just for scouting purposes, but because "we're all soccer fans. We all follow those games."

Luke Cyphers is a former senior writer for ESPN The Magazine.
Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine. He has covered American and international soccer since 2002.