This past weekend, sixteen teams from the men's division and eight teams from the women's division advanced to the 2012 Super-20 League North American Finals at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. VSI Tampa Flames qualified for the event after finishing tied for 2nd in the Southeast division and were placed into group B of the competition along with the Ottawa Fury, Knoxville Soccer Academy, and Chicago Fire.
Two-time defending champions the Crew Juniors lead the men's division, and they are joined by fellow Midwest Division clubs Chicago Fire and Waza FC. The new Mid South Division had three teams making the trip to Fla. – Alamo SC San Antonio, Texas Football Club, and the Laredo Heat, while host IMG joined the Flames along with Tampa Bay United and Orlando City Juniors from the Southeast Division.
First-year program Knoxville Soccer Academy, FASA of the South Atlantic Division and Ottawa Fury of the New England Division also earned a trip to the first-class facilities of IMG Academy. The Mid Atlantic Division contingent was made up of three teams, Westchester Flames, Ironbound SC, and Potomac to round out the field of 16.
Teams checked into the facilities on Wednesday, July 18 with group play beginning Thursday morning and running through Saturday. The tournament was made up of four groups of four and each group winner advancing to the semi-finals. Each group was drawn randomly, with the provision that two teams from the same qualifying group could not be paired together in the opening round.
In the first match of the tournament on Thursday, the Flames faced the Ottawa Fury and got off to a great start, but not without making things interesting. Luis Felipe Marques De Sousa led the way for the Flames with two goals in a 4-2 win. The Flames jumped out to an early 2-0 lead and dominated the entire game until 10 minutes left. At this point their lead had built up to 3-0 on goals from Ellis Curry and Marcus Starke before Ottawa struck back with two of their own to make things exciting. Luis's 2nd goal sealed the game for the Flames 3 minutes from the end and earned their first victory.
On Friday, the Flames faced fellow first year team, the Knoxville Soccer Academy. Coming off a loss to the Chicago Fire on match day one, Knoxville came out attacking like they had something to prove. Falling behind early, the Flames we determined to get the equalizer and push forward for the win. In the 2nd half, Tevin Gage got the Flames on the score board after receiving a great through ball from the midfield and beating the goalkeeper to his near post. The goal evened up the score line that led to an intense 10 minute period that saw to more goals and a red card. Right off the restart, Knoxville pushed the ball forward and scored the go ahead goal less than a minute after the Flames tied it up. The Flames players were still on the sideline grabbing a drink when the referee whistled to start play and Knoxville took advantage of it. The Flames defensive players were furious at the decision and challenged the referee's decision that lead to Cameron Brown being shown a red card. Within five minutes, VSI was able to score again, this time it was Asony Asmat finding the goal to tie the game up at 2-2 and would end this way.
After a win and a tie in the first two games, all the Flames needed was a victory vs Chicago Fire to advance to the semifinals. The Fire were also undefeated going into the final game against the Flames and just needed a tie to advance. The Fire showed their class against in the Flames easily defeating them 6-0. The Fire would eventually be crowned champions going on to defeat the Texas Football Club in the semifinals and the Columbus Crew Juniors in the finals only conceding one goal the entire tournament.