MLS- Sporting Kansas City

Five more MLS teams join list of clubs heading to Arizona for 2013 pre-season


Arizona soccer fans may not have a MLS franchise to call their own, but for the first two months of 2013, fans in the Grand Canyon State will have a buffet style of teams to cheer for.

In addition to the four MLS teams that are going to participate in the 2013 Desert Diamond Cup, FC Tucson announced Thursday that they have invited five more MLS clubs to train and play preseason friendlies in Tucson.

The five teams will be: Houston Dynamo, Portland Timbers, San Jose Earthquakes,  Sporting Kansas City and Colorado Rapids

Seattle Sounders and New England Revolution originally committed to playing in the Cup, will also participate in the nine friendlies that will be played between January 29th-February 8th.

The Desert Diamond Cup is then scheduled to start on February 13th, with the two other teams being Real Salt Lake and New York Red Bulls.

The addition of the new teams is a huge boost of confidence for Tucson from Major League Soccer. FC Tucson has not been quiet about their ambitions to be the official western hub for MLS spring training.

And why wouldn’t they?

The Cactus League, Major League Baseball’s version of spring training, generates more than $300 million for the Phoenix economy. The league also set a attendance mark this past year drawing over 1.5 million fans.

FC Tucson understands that creating their own unique identity is key to creating a successful pre-season home for the MLS.

The nine friendlies will be a cheaper alternative from the Desert Diamond Cup and it will also allow fans to sit and watch the action just a few feet from the pitch.

When the Desert Diamond Cup kicks off, FC Tucson wants to have a MLS stadium atmosphere. They want fans of the teams participating to bring their “home” stadium experience to Tucson.

Another reason why this is such a big deal for city of Tucson is because MLB ditched Tucson in 2010. That was when the final 2 teams pulled out and moved to Phoenix.

Tucson had empty facilities and needed to find a way to fill the facilities to justify the money the city had spent building them. Enter FC Tucson.

Founded in 2010, FC Tucson hosted the first edition of the Cup in 2011 inviting two MLS teams. In 2012, FC Tucson added two more MLS teams, hosting four total for the Cup. Before the Cup was played that year numerous MLS teams also spent part of their preseason training in Arizona.

The difference between the 2013 Desert Diamond Cup and the previous two editions, is that the Cup now has the official stamp of approval from MLS. Earlier in October it was announced that Tucson would become the “Western Hub of MLS Pre-Season”.

Now that MLS has committed to Tucson, the city has already begun the process converting the baseball practice fields to soccer fields. Some of the fields will have bleachers around the pitch.

Spring training combined with Arizona is a perfect marriage. Out of the nine teams scheduled to be in the friendlies and Cup, seven of the teams are from cold weather climates.

Those teams are: Portland, New York Red Bulls, New England Revolution, Real Salt Lake, Colorado Rapids, Seattle Sounders and Sporting Kansas City.

    • Kevin_Amold

      Agreed, provided that federal law requires all permanent residents to carry proof of permanent resident status on their person. It would be a shame for a player to unnecessarily run afoul of federal law.

      George, you write a thought-provoking weekly column, but leave the snarky humor to the Daily Show. You’re above it.


  • bottlcaps

    Actually the weather here in February is real good, but we already have the big GEM and Fossil show that fills up all the Hotels rooms for miles around. I think some of the teams will be preparing in Casa Grande about 50 miles up the road, but playing in Tucson.

    Tucson has 2 Minor League Stadiums; Hi Corbett Field at Reid Park (Featured in the Movie Major League, and the newer Tucson Electric Park (Where last years Cactus Cup was played) In Addition the U of A has a really nice soccer park. And just in case we get some really big matches in the future, McHale stadium (50,000+) can be put into play.

    The fact that Tucson has a large Latino population is not lost on the MLS. The other is that Tucson has a long history of hosting spring training. Baseball was played here during the winter and early spring for over 100 years. There were a lot of people and businesses that felt a little betrayed when MLB left Tucson. We still have a hotel and car rental tax in place to pay for Tucson Electric Park. Even the minor League teams abandoned Tucson, The Semi-pro Tucson Toros are the only remnants of a proud tradition. There are a lot of hotel rooms in Tucson that were filled during the baseball spring training, ranging from the Locally-owned fleabags to the ultra-posh Golf resorts that surround Tucson. Gas is real cheap here too. (3.39 gal) We have some of the best Mexican food resturaunts anywhere.

    But Tucson has embraced soccer. The FC Tucson football team did quite well last season. Several of it players are starters for nationally ranked collegiate teams!. Where else can you but the “Cactus Pricks” mufflers?

    All-in-all , SBI readers need to start planning their pre-season trip to Tucson now.

    Bottlcaps (Proud resident of Southern Arizona)


    • Gnarls

      I almost made the trip last pre-season (when my Galaxy won the Diamond Cup), but never made it happen. I don’t know if LA will be there this year, but it they go I’ll definitely be there.


  • THomas

    When’s the January USMNT camp? Any way they could join in the festivities in the build up to the Feb. Hex game??


  • 2tone

    I like Thomas idea about possibly adding the USMNT January Camp to the mix as well. Also I think it would benefit MLS to invite in some Scandinavian teams as well for this pre-season tournament. Kinda what Orlando did last year. Invite a few Norwegien and Sweden teams.


    • bottlcaps

      I attended one of the FC Tucson planning meetings meetings and there was interest in teams from Scandinavia as well as Germany and even Russia, as well as Mexico. The logistics of all this is a bit overwhelming. and for right now maybe limited to MLS teams with a visit from Mexican teams in the future. But it was gratifying to see so much interest worldwide.

      It does get cold here in February and sometimes in March, but most of the time the daytime ambient temp are in the 70’s. There are good facilities and the logistics from airfare hotels and meals are really cheap for a warm weather city in the winter. It all depends on how well it goes with the expanded number of teams. The General consensus is if all goes well, it will continue to grow.


      • beto

        that would be pretty cool to see MLS and international clubs all over Tuscon for a month each year. Hopefully MLS clubs can plow over the Scandinavian clubs and teach those top NCAA draft picks where they should sign.


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