RAMSTEIN, Germany — Eighteen Europe-based American teens will get a chance to end their seclusion from the U.S. college soccer scene when they play in the Surf Cup XXX soccer tournament July 26-Aug. 3 in San Diego.

“This is one of the biggest showcase tournaments in the States,” Under-18 U.S. Youth Soccer Europe coach Dominik Ludes said by telephone Tuesday. “We want to get them exposed to college coaches. There’ll be 250-300 college coaches in attendance.”

Ludes, a longtime volunteer assistant for the Ramstein High School Royals, selected a team of 18 Europe-based Americans to make the trip to the States from a pool of 50 who tried out last fall.

The team includes four All-Europeans – freshman Ben Jacks of Sigonella, junior Jon McClouth of Ramstein, junior Zach Harrington of Heidelberg and junior midfielder-forward Alassane Doukoure of Baumholder.

“We tried to get the best players together,” Ludes said. “We don’t just want to be going to the tournament. We want to be competitive.”

After winning two tournaments and finishing second in two others last month, the final 18 served notice they’re ready to play against teams in the States who practice together four or five times a week.

“I feel good about our ability to compete,” Ludes said.

With such a serious practice-time disadvantage for a team whose players come from as far away as Sigonella and Lakenheath, Ludes scheduled a team-building exercise recently at the K1 High Ropes Course east of Kaiserslautern — and near the practice field of Kaiserslautern’s professional soccer team.

“We were allowed to use the course free of charge,” Ludes said. “It was an opportunity to get the team together and for the guys to learn to trust and depend on each other.”

In addition to placing his team on the ropes, Ludes also hopes to counter the time the U.S. teams play together with superior ability.

“Individually, the players over here have European exposure with their local clubs,” he said. “Tactically, they might have an advantage over U.S. players who aren’t exposed to as high a level of competition.”

Ludes’ squad is scheduled to open play July 30 in the 16-team Under-18 Super Division as part of a four-team pool consisting of Santa Clara Sporting Club and the South Bay Force, both of California, and Union Tulsa of Oklahoma. Top two finishers from the pool advance to the quarterfinals on Aug. 2.

A complete schedule of the tournament, with results, is available at

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