Three years after breaking onto the scene and becoming the largest high school boys soccer tournament in the Midwest and third largest in the country, the Pepsi Showdown continues to grow.
The 2007 field will consist of 38 teams, 32 of which will compete in the area’s lone single-elimination tournament beginning Sept. 4.
“Last year was exciting, and I’m even more excited about this year’s tournament,” said Lyons boys soccer coach Paul Labbato, whose school is the official IHSA host for the three-week tournament. “Things last year went off without a hitch, and that was because our administration did a great job making sure everything was set to host a prestigious tournament like this.”
Besides Lyons, Fenwick and Oak Park also will be involved in the premier showcase. Lyons earned the No. 5 seed and will battle Farragut in the opening round on Sept. 4. Oak Park is seeded No. 15 and will host Andrew, while No. 15 Fenwick will battle Kelly.
The Lions’ first-round game will be apart of a tripleheader on Lake Shore Dr. If Oak Park wins its opening-round match, the Huskies would take part in the second triple-header on Lake Shore Dr. on Sept. 6.
“The tripleheaders will give fans and college coaches a chance to come to one site during the week and see six great teams on any given night,” Labbato said.
This year, St. Edward (Ohio), O’Fallon, Gibault, New Trier, Loyola and St. Joseph also will be apart of the Showdown. The six programs will battle teams that have been knocked out of the NCAA Tournament-like bracket on the first and second weekend of the five-day tourney.
Considered by many to be one of the strongest showcases around, the 2007 field consists of programs that combined have won 114 sectional titles and advanced to the state finals 61 times. Ten of the programs have won a state title, while 17 others have finished second since the Illinois state tournament began in 1972.
The 87-game tourney will feature more than 800 players from 27 public schools and 11 private schools. More than 95 communities will be represented in the Showdown.
Tournament and Chicago Fire officials finalized an agreement to have the title game played at Toyota Park once again on Sunday, Sept. 23 after the Fire’s battle with D.C. United.
“It was exciting looking around on the two Saturdays last year and seeing all the teams playing,” Labbato said. “To have all 38 teams at one site on the same day is what separates this tournament from the rest.”
A bracket and complete game schedule may be found at www.pepsishowdown.us.