It will be uncharted territory for the Ballistic United MLS NEXT program as the Under-16 team starts the MLS NEXT Cup competition on Saturday.
The Under-16 team will be one of three BUSC teams at the event in Frisco, Texas, but are the only team to qualify for the Playoffs and a chance to win a national title.
The Under-15 and Under-17 teams will be on site to participate in the Showcase, an event where the teams and players can show their skills in front of numerous college coaches.
The U-16 team, guided by Brady Taylor, was the lone BUSC team to make the playoffs and will find themselves in a 32-team bracket.
The team qualified two different ways – high enough finish in their MLS NEXT league season, and then by winning their group at the MLS NEXT Flex playoffs in Maryland last month.
It’s an intense tournament with no margin of error.
Lose once and if you are eliminated from the playoffs. A loss puts the team into the Showcase portion of the event. Every team that travels to Texas is guaranteed three games.
It is the elite 32 teams in the nation competing for the National Championship.
“I have high hopes,” said Taylor. “We have a really good team. (We) just need to be committed to who we are and to the game model.”
Taylor, who is a studious film watcher, then explained in simple terms what is the game model.
“It’s what to do with the ball, and what we do without the ball,” said Taylor.
It is a loaded, but balanced tournament of which Ballistic is one of the teams with a legitimate chance to win.
“Our expectation is to win,” said Taylor.
The schedules for the three teams are as follows. All times CDT.
6/25 vs. Shattuck-Saint Mary’s (Minnesota), 7 p.m.
6/26 vs. FC Dallas, 3 p.m.
6/28 vs. Vancouver White Caps, 3 p.m.
6/25 vs. Real Salt Lake-Arizona, 11 a.m.
Second game TBA, based on first game result
6/26 vs. San Antonio FC, 9 p.m.
6/27 vs. Midwest United FC (Missouri), 5 p.m.
6/29 vs. New York Soccer Club, 9 a.m.