Pro Soccer comes to Breck |

Pro Soccer comes to Breck

BRECKENRIDGE – The home team didn’t score, but Saturday’s professional soccer game between the Boulder Rapids Reserve and the Utah Blitzz was a huge score for the High Country Soccer Association.

Between raising more than $4,000, showcasing the type of soccer to which local players aspire and perhaps expanding the sport’s reach in Summit County, it was a winning day for High Country Soccer.

“We wanted to showcase that higher level of the game,” said High Country Soccer Association founder Amy Machin-Ward, “not only for the kids, but for their parents to see what the professional game looks like and where we’re going with developing the association.”

This was the biggest event High Country has put on since forming last fall. The proceeds will benefit its scholarship program.

Parents, volunteers and children packed Kingdom Park on a day fitting of the summer solstice. The wind was low and the evening sun shone bright. More than 400 tickets were sold at $10 a piece.

Shamus O’Neill, who plays on the High Country/Summit Striker Under-13 boys team, got the privilege of working the sidelines as a ball boy. At halftime, he and other youth players took to the field for a penalty kick contest.

“I think it’s cool they came to Breck and that they organized it so they could come up here,” O’Neill said.

Boulder Rapids Reserve General Manager Peter Ambrose is a former Summit County resident, and he contacted Machin-Ward about bringing a game to the High Country.

“We sell games to youth clubs all over the state,” Ambrose said. “It’s a fundraiser for the club, and they get the best possible soccer besides the Colorado Rapids themselves to play in their backyard. It’s a win-win situation for everybody. We get a little bit of money, they get a little bit of money, and they get the game right here.”

The game itself was a win only for the Blitzz. The Utah team went up 1-0 on an early penalty kick then scored another on a well-played half-volley before halftime. Another penalty kick late in the game made it 3-0.

The Boulder Rapids Reserve play in the Premier Development League, which is semi-professional, allowing college players to test the MLS waters while retaining their college eligibility. The Utah team plays in the Pro Select League, which is a step closer to the MLS and is purely for professional players.

The Rapids Reserve is in an advantageous situation, however, because it is one of only four teams actually affiliated with an MLS team. The Rapids Reserve practice with and occasionally scrimmage the Colorado Rapids.

Local soccer coach and Breckenridge Men’s Club player Justin Turri watched Saturday’s game and was unimpressed by the quality of play.

“It’s not as good as I thought it would be,” he said. “I’m seeing a lot of bad passes and missed touches that you don’t expect to see at a higher level … But you can’t really judge them on one game.”

Still, Turri understood the significance of Summit County’s first-ever professional soccer game.

“It’s great for High Country Soccer,” he said, “especially to get the kids up here to watch some good soccer. It’s only going to help the program.”

Machin-Ward plans to hold the game again next summer, probably in July at the Summit High School stadium.

Jason Starr can be reached at (970) 668-3998 Ext. 231 or at

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