Take heart, St. Louis soccer fan! It's true, times have been unkind to the one-time mecca of American soccer. We still lack a Major League Soccer team and only recently revived the indoor Steamers. But the area remains one of the premier regions for producing top-level American soccer talent, and some of those homegrown phenoms will be on display in a uniquely fast-paced setting at Street Soccer Cup USA (9-5 p.m. under the shed at St. Louis Union Station, Market at 20th streets, free to spectators).
Instead of the languid delights of traditional soccer, wherein 22 guys chase a ball around a huge grass field for 90 minutes, Street Soccer is a frantically intense 4-on-4 melee crammed into a small, walled field. The game is played on pavement with a special low-bounce ball, so ball-handling abilities are at a premium, and each half is only five minutes long. No long, slow buildups here; the object in this human pinball game is to score early and often. "It's high-energy, multiple-touch soccer, with an emphasis on teamwork and skill," says Jeffrey Stern of Street Soccer Cup USA.
Although the tournament includes divisions for both sexes ranging in age from under-8 to over-30, the men's open division is of the most interest to spectators. "Last year we had Shaun Taggart, one of the top soccer prospects out of St. Louis in the last couple of years," Stern says. "The team that won the men's division last year is called the St. Louis Bosnians. They're unbelievable." Former Roosevelt High hotshot Vedad Ibisevic will again play for the Bosnians before starting his freshman season at SLU in the fall.
Registration for players officially closed on July 7, but Stern says that they'll try to work with anyone who wants to enter a last-minute team in any division. Registration fee for a team of 5 (1 goalkeeper, 3 field players and one substitute) is $145. Call 314-514-8050, or visit www.streetsoccercup.com (or, en Español: www.copadefutbolrapido.com). -- Jason Toon
Love & Basketball
Joe Torry's Shooting Stars
If you like to see, smell and hear Hollywood stars, you need to get to the Joe Torry Giving Back the Love Celebrity Basketball Game, which fills the basketball court at Savvis Center with more celebs and pseudo-celebs than Jerry Berger can shake a stick at. This year, Vivica Fox (Booty Call), Shemar Moore (The Brothers), Ananda Lewis (MTV), "Judges" Greg Mathis and Mabeline Ephriam, Penny Hardaway, Clyde Drexler, Dominique Wilkins, Warrick Dunn, Megan Goode (Biker Boys), Steve Harris ("The Practice"), Tamara Bass ("Boston Public"), Kelita Smith ("The Bernie Mac Show") and dozens of others ball for charity at 5 p.m. at 14th at Clark streets ($10-$100, 314-241-1888, www.joetorryfoundation.com). -- Byron Kerman
How Many Hot Dogs Canoe Eat?
Once upon a time, a man would coax a woman into a rowboat and paddle into the center of the lake, where he would ask for her hand in marriage, or at the very least, a hand job. Times have changed, though. When you call St. Louis County Parks at 314-416-4374 to pre-register for the Full-Moon Paddle & Hot-Dog Roast, you'll be signing on for a placid paddle under the full moon at Creve Coeur Lake with other couples (9 p.m., Dorsett Road at Marine Avenue, $15, $7 if you bring your own canoe or kayak). After you dock at Inspiration Point, you'll find musicians performing romantic ditties, all the wieners you can eat, a cozy bonfire and discreet wife-swapping. -- Byron Kerman
He's Worth a Deuce
If you were sitting near one of the back walls of Dwight Davis Tennis Center stadium court at last year's Andy Roddick matches, you know just how powerful his first serve really is. Every time he aced one, the ball, which could barely be seen by the naked eye, bounced into the wall with a ringing smack and made everybody nearby flinch. The World Team Tennis' St. Louis Aces fill the month of July with tennis exhibition games by Roddick, heartthrob Anna Kournikova and the reigning Wimbledon mixed-doubles champ Martina Navratilova, playing singles, doubles and mixed-doubles in Forest Park (7:05 p.m., 314-726-ACES, $25-$50, www.stlouisaces.com). -- Byron Kerman