The 23 players named to the U.S. men's national team won't be the only people representing their country at the FIFA World Cup this summer. Joining them will be a dozen teenagers who will earn a trip to Berlin on Saturday and Sunday at the adidas +Challenge tournament in Venice Beach, Calif.
Thirty-two teams will gather in Venice Beach over the weekend and compete in two age groups: 13-14-year-olds and 15-16-year-olds. Each six-player team will participate in a round robin tournament of 5-v-5, 3-v-3 and 1-v-1 matches, choosing among themselves which team members will take part in each.
The most successful team in each age group will win an all-expenses paid trip to Germany, where the global finals will be conducted at the beginning of July in conjunction with the World Cup. The California event is the only one to take place in the United States.
The adidas +Challenge marks the transition of the company's +10 campaign - the largest marketing campaign in the company's history - from one based solely on advertising to a grassroots effort. In honor of the occasion, this weekend's event will feature a Hollywood presence, including an appearance by actor Luke Wilson.
"The adidas +Challenge is a really cool opportunity for kids here in Los Angeles and across the country to get excited for the FIFA World Cup this summer," Wilson said. "As a big fan of soccer, I'm looking forward to seeing the 32 youth teams compete for the title of Team USA and represent our country at the global finals in Berlin."
Chivas USA striker Ante Razov will be on hand for a portion of the tournament. He said the event will be "a big party."
"It's a festival for the World Cup and an opportunity to come out and check out adidas products. It's going to be fun," he said. "It's basically a big party. There's going to be a big tournament for kids; the winning team gets the chance to go to Germany, so it's kind of a little World Cup for them. It's also an opportunity to meet fans and hang out. There'll be an X-Box 10, play some video games, there'll be some celebrities, and a few bands out there as well."
Razov won't be the only MLS player in attendance this weekend. Chivas USA players Brad Guzan and Sacha Kljestan will make appearances on Saturday from 2 to 3 p.m. PT, and their teammates Razov and Matt Taylor will be in attendance on Sunday from 2 to 3 p.m. PT.
"It's going to be a great time, we'll go out there and interact with the fans first-hand," Guzan said. "It should be a good event, the winners of the tournament get to go to the World Cup, so there's an incentive for them. It's all about promoting the World Cup. It's the most viewed [single-sport] event in the world, and it's only a couple months away, so it should be a fun weekend for everyone."
Jason Halpin is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.