A photo of the Russian soccer team.
Team Russia (above) won the tournament play, but offered the championship to San Francisco. Photo by Megan Hustings.

The third and final day of the Street Soccer U.S.A Cup saw an effort dampened neither by fatigue nor rain. The weather was just another reminder that the teams were truly in D.C.  

Here, a sunny summer day of only 78 degrees Fahrenheit is prohibited from finishing as such, so it had to rain in the afternoon.  

After dozens of matches the previous two days and several more that morning, the champions were determined that afternoon. Entering the finals were San Francisco, after beating Los Angeles, and Russia, after beating Montgomery County.  

Russia scored first in the tense game with swift and concentrated moves, avoiding the falls taken on the rainslicked playing field by previous players. Though San Francisco met the challenge with good offense of their own, the two teams tied with one minute before the half, Russia attained a score of 3 to 1 after two penalty kicks.  

During the interval, the announcer urged the crowd to do the wave and auctioned off a pair of men’s Nike shoes after their raffle-winner failed to claim them, continuing the non-soccer entertainment held simultaneously with the games. The first to tweet a tongue-twister to the U.S. Cup’s Twitter account would win a pair of shorts. The Minnesota team waved its two flags, watching from the bleachers.  

The level of ferocity increased in the second half, the ball bounced more and more often over the low court walls and into the stands. San Francisco, as a team of players from one city against a team of players drawn from a whole country, could not match the skills of the Russians. At five minutes left, the St. Petersburg-based team was in the lead. When the clock reached zero, they were irrefutably number one, with a score of 6 to 3.  

The closing ceremonies began at five and all the players and coaches gathered on the field to reflect on everyone’s significant achievements. “We’re here because we use sports for social change,” the MC reminded them.  

The tournament had agony, triumph, despair and hope, but it culminated in celebration of all the players’ performance. Clinking sounds resounded as medals were handed out to almost every person.  

One man in the stands told his friend, “I’d really like to get involved in this.”  

Arkady Tyurin, of the Russian team, addressed the crowd. He thanked Washington, Street Soccer, “all people of the United States” and the tournament organizers. “Football is happiness, football is joy, football is responsibility.”