Photo of two players battling for the soccer ball
Photo by Talia Roth

16 teams from cities across the U.S. converge in D.C. to fight for the U.S. Street Soccer Cup 

A player hoists a banner over his shoulders

Photo by Talia Roth

Mouhamad Diaw is originally from West Africa and he speaks four different languages. He was able to speak three of them at this tournament.  

“That’s the good thing about soccer, it can unite people from all over the world,” he said. “It’s all peace, not drama.”  

On August 1, the team from San Francisco won the fourth annual Street Soccer USA Cup. They edged out Minneapolis 6-3 to take the title, beating out 15 other teams from across the U.S.  

As Diaw recognized, the tournament united not only homeless people from the U.S., but from many different nations.  

“It’s a great thing,” the San Francisco player said. “We get to share not only soccer, but conversation. We get to know each other.”  

While the players enjoyed getting to know each other, it became clear to goalie William Williams they were all here for the same purpose.  

“We’ve all got one thing in common and we’re all here for the same reason,” the Richmond player said. “We’re not here for ourselves, we’re all here for anyone who’s ever been homeless, or had nobody. The stereotype is done. We’re just as strong as anybody.”  

While acknowledging these bigger issues, Williams called the tournament “the most fun I’ve had in a while.”  

Two players battle over the soccer ball

Photo by Talia Roth

The skill levels of the teams ranged widely. While some teams had practiced up to three times a week leading up to the tournament, others had struggled to maintain once-a-week practices. To accommodate these differences, the teams were divided by skill level and awarded four different trophies: the Street Soccer for Social Change Championship Cup, the D.C. Cup, the HELPUSA Cup and finally the USA Cup. 

The teams were housed in George Washington University dorms and many players ventured out into


D.C. together, visiting the White House, Capitol and Lincoln Memorial.  

While staying friendly off the field, the games got rough with lots of fouls called. While some players engaging in what looked to be the beginnings of fights, and many medical personnel attending to injuries field-side.  

“We didn’t travel six hours to lose,” Mamadi Conneh, a Charlotte player, said. “Everybody wants to play to win.”  

But according to Jason Stubbs, whose St. Louis team went a while without a win, the competitiveness did not hurt their sportsmanship for the most part. 

“They tell us nice game after they beat the crap out of us,” he said. 

Street Sense Congratulates D.C.’s own, the Knights, on Placing 7th of 16

This is the same place they got last year when there were only 11 teams competing. Two D.C. Knights players were selected to be in the pool from which the national team is chosen. These players are Javier Gomez and Roberto Portillo. Street Sense vendor Chino Dean and volunteer and vendor Frank Mearns balanced their duties at our paper and on the D.C. Knights soccer team. Chino scored six goals in the tournament for the team. Chino also served as an extremely valuable translator between the Spanish and English speakers on his team. Frank, joining the team late in the season, pulled through becoming an asset in the tournament. Frank also works with as a volunteer with the National Coalition for the Homeless. Frank is retiring from playing soccer, but will still practice with the team. They plan to continue to train every week.