Rogue Valley Cup takes center stage

Expect long lines at local restaurants and no vacancy signs posted at area hotels this weekend.

But the influx of a few thousand extra visitors that routinely flock to Southern Oregon for Memorial Day weekend will mainly be here for one thing: Soccer, and plenty of it.

The 14th annual Rogue Valley Cup youth soccer tournament begins Saturday and concludes Monday with a handful of championship matches.

The ever-growing event will feature 160-plus teams from five different states competing in 19 boys and girls divisions ranging from under-10 to under-19 at 18 different fields in Medford and Ashland.

The RV Cup is the largest annual weekend event of any kind in Jackson County, and regularly pumps in around $3 million into the local economy.

Not a bad three days for a tournament that originally featured 72 teams in its initial year in 1994.

"We've grown every year," says Mike Dunn, director and founder of the Rogue Valley Cup. "We have teams from all over hearing about this tournament on-line or in soccer publications."

The addition of four new hotels has also boosted the size of the tournament.

"Typically, our problem isn't about the amount of teams as it is where will we put all these people," says Dunn. "Since we picked up the four new hotels last year, finding a place to put some of these teams and families hasn't been as much of an issue."

This year's tournament features teams from as far south as Southern California to as far north as Washington. Squads from Idaho and Nevada will also make the trip.

Locally, a handful of girls and boys teams will be strong contenders for RV Cup titles.

In the U19 boys premier division, the RVSC Throwbacks and the RVSC United should be in contention for a Monday game.

Several local girls U19 squads should also be right in the mix, with the RVSC Oh Yeah team, the RVSC FCSO United and the FC Phoenix Valkyrie all featuring strong teams.

"I have a sneaking suspicion we could be seeing an RVSC vs. RVSC championship match," Dunn says of the U19 girls.

Next year, Dunn is hoping to implement an international flair for the RV Cup. He had originally hoped to invite foreign teams to this year's event.

"Even though we started that process nine months ago, it was still premature in a sense," says Dunn. "But we made contacts for next year.

"Once we've made relationships with clubs in Canada, South America or Japan, that will open the door for some of these other teams from Dallas or Denver to want to come play here. It'll definitely help draw teams from farther east."

The international atmosphere is something Dunn hopes to see on a consistent basis the next few years.

"That's the kind of atmosphere I want," he says. "The multi-cultural, international feel that is all about the kids.

"We have families around here that will help with these teams. They have to know that once they get here, we'll take care of them."

Reach reporter Kevin Goff at 776-4483, or e-mail

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