Last Updated, November 20, 20175.
Based exclusively on our personal experiences at tournaments, we recommend the following tournaments for the teams in the Fargo Soccer Club.
Tonka Splash, Minnetonka, MN. This tournament is hosted by the Tonka United Soccer Association. it is held annually about the first week of June. This tournamnet is first rate. The venues are very inviting amid the forested fields of the southwest Minneapolis suburbs. Wind is rarely a factor given the buffer from the trees. Parking is generally very good although Freman Park fields can get crowded. The fields are lush. The referees are generally well above average. They are punctual and competent although they are some of the youngest we see, especially for the U9-U11 age groups. The organizing committee is very, very accommodating. They respond to emails and phone calls promptly. They work with us on our schedules. We have never had to play a Friday night game. This saves us from leaving Fargo early on Friday. The competition has always been extremely good. The opposing teams are high quality. The brackets are usually full, especially at the U9-U12 age groups. In 2012, there was a conflict with ODP so some of the older age brackets were a bit sparse. The tournament rates as one of the top tournaments in Minnesota. This is not recommended for teams U17 or older as competition is non-existant. We have sent teams to this tournament since 2006.
US Club Soccer Regional, Libertyville, IL. This tournament is hosted by US Club Soccer. It is held annually at 6-8 locations in the USA. Winners of this tournament at U13+ ages go on to the national championship tournament. The referees are very high quality. The competition is very high quality. The venue is very high quality. This tournament is highly recommended for teams that are highly competent. It is only open to U11+ teams that are part of US Club Soccer.
Tri-City Storm, Fargo, ND. Expect unbalanced brackets, testy tournament officials and favoritism for their teams in both scheduling and treatment. They fiddle with the guest player rules and reserve the right to micro-manage your roster. It is local, though. The fields at the Pepsi complex are very nice.
Dakota Rev-It-Up, Apple Valley, MN. This tournament is hosted by the Dakota Rev Soccer Club. It is held annually over 2 weekends in early May. We attended this tournament in 2012 with teams on both weekends. The tournament committee hassled us at check-in because we were part of US Club Soccer. They had accepted us knowing we were part of US Club Soccer and then only begrudginly worked with us after we showed up at check-in with US Club Soccer passes and paperwork. The first weekend's game were almost entirely all rained out. The city or park district made the decisions to cancel the games. Meanwhile, other tournament(s) in the Twin Cities that weekend were playing soccer. We only received 35-50% refunds; even for teams that played NO games! The fields at most venues are in terrible shape. Some fields had rocks and gravel. It appears at least one venue, Quarry Point, is a reclaimed rock quarry. The best venue had quality fields. The second best venue had fields with what appeared to be a half dozen varieties of grass, all growing at different rates on unevern playing surfaces. The quality of competition for our U14 boys was lacking. Our U9 girls and U12 girls had quality competition. The referees were good for most of our games. Because of the poor playing venues and lack of competence by the tournament committee, we highly recommend against playing in this tournament.
Shakopee Cup, Shakopee, MN. This tournament is held mid-May annually by the Shakopee Soccer Association. The bad experience came in 2015 when the Tournament Director at first refused to accommodate a coach's schedule. The coach was coaching 2 teams in the tournament. The Tournament Director scheduled both of the coach's teams at the same time (one instance). He finally relented and the schedules were fixed. He just had to modify 1 game. The tournament fields were fine. The parking was horrible at the 17th Street Complex. There was reserved parking for tournament officials but not for coaches with more than one team to coach. The referees were better than average at the U9 and U11 games with one exception. At a U11 game, unannounced to the tournament participants, the tournament officials instituted a referee mentor program. At the one U11 game, a mentor was seated in a lawn chair straddling 2 fields near the end lines. He was not identified as a mentor, field marshal, tournament official or anyone else in an official cacpacity. Unfortunately, this man tried to act as a 4th official. He was a distraction to the coaches and the players. He was intimidating and threatening. Our coaches thought he might be a field marshal. He was not. The young center referee was very full of himself and unapproachable. He had a short temper and could not be bothered to answer the simplest of questions without becoming hostile. He quickly resorted to the "Shut-up of I will eject you from the game." The offense? Our coach asked for clarification on 2 occasions; first for a disallowed goal and the second for a goalkeeper punt that directly struck one of our players. In the first case, he had signaled a goal after our player intercepted a goal kick near the penalty box line. The center referee was within 20 yards of the goal but allowed himself to be overruled by his linesman who was 40 or more yards away from penalty box line call. The center referee admitted to our coach immediately after the goal that he believed the ball traveled outside the penalty box before it was intercepted but wanted to show respect to his AR's observation. Our team ended up losing 4-3. The disallowed goal would have tied the score 2-2 at the time. Video after the game showed that the AR's observation was correct. The goalkeeper punt was directly at a player who was retreating away from the goal area, had his back to the ball and made no attempt to block the punt. The correct call is a yellow card on the goalkeeper. Our coach asked for a yellow card. There was no field marshal available at the field. An additional referee showed up 15 minutes later. The Tournament Director failed to address any of our concerns about the Referee mentor; instead claiming that he had empowered the mentor in a private email to act as 4th official; against published tournament rules. The tournament director prejudiced a friendly match with our U9 Avengers team against the Shakopee U9 Seel maroon team. The Shakopee U9 coaches were biligerent from the outset; leading to a very unfriendly game. The U11 boys gold bracketing/scheduling was in violation of the tournament rules. After the tournament, the tournament director threatened to blackball our club from participation in any Twin Cities tournament. He emailed the MYSA board of directors, the MN State Referee Committee and every competitive coach in the Fargo Soccer Club with lies, distortions and threats.
Fishback Classic, Brookings, SD. This tournament is held annually in late July by the Brookings Football Club. The fields in Brookings are some of the best we've played on. Parking is great. Hotel accommodations are tricky if you don't book a six or more months in advance. You could be stuck 50 miles away in Watertown. The tournament's biggest drawbacks were its officials and tournament administration. In 2017, we went one team, a U12 boys team. We qualified for the tournament championship but the Tournament Director refused to let us play. The center referee in the semi-final game "red carded" both coaches (from the 2 teams) because he had lost control of his emotions and could not think straight. Parents, players and coaches from both teams wanted to play but Tournament Administration refused to even let the game be played outside of the tournament site in Brookings. For the championship matches in 2012, the tournament administration added a fourth official to the game. This is unprecedented in this part of the country. The fourth official in the U11 Boys championship game made life miserable for our players. He forced a FIFA-style substitution process that was so unfamiliar to the kids that some were in near tears as they missed subbing and could not adhere to the official's rules. The subbing procedure was not explained to the coaches before the game so we could not help the kids either. The center referee was hypersensitive and could not be reasoned with. Instead, he invoked the usual, "I'm in charge of the pitch so shut-up or be sent off," attitude. The tournament administrators backed the officials which only made matters worse. While we won the championship game, it was not without its unnecessary drama and aggravation. The other problem with administration is the 10-player roster rule for U9 and U10 teams. If you have 11 or 12 players on your roster, you may end up having to disappoint a family and player (or two!) who won't be able to play. This is what happens with small-town tournaments and people trying their own version of soccer. The older officials were not of sufficient quality for competitive soccer although some of the younger officials did a respectable job.
DASC Winter Games, Sioux Falls, SD. This tournament is held annually. The tournament officials don't take teams on a first-come basis and show a propensity towards favoring certain club and punishing clubs they don't like. Combine that with a notification policy of waiting weeks and months for acceptance and rejection and there is no reason to enter this DASC tournament or other DASC tournaments.