Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By DAN ITEL
It’s MLS preseason tournament time, and a meeting of Cup champions will highlight the early proceedings as action kicks off today and runs through next week.
Cup champions Sporting Kansas City will meet the Supporters’ Shield holders New York Red Bulls in the six-team Disney Pro Soccer Classic at Orlando’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at 3 pm (streaming live at SportingKC.com). It’s a tantalizing preview of two of the sides once again expected to compete in the Eastern Conference.
“It’s a bit less of the physical workout and more of then approach of the game and tactics and how we want to go into each of these games coming up,” New York manager Mike Petke said of the team’s approach to the upcoming tournament in an interview on NewYorkRedBulls.com fresh off his team’s 2-1 preseason win last week over the Philadelphia Union.
Kansas City is looking to pick up right where they left off from their Cup victory over Real Salt Lake last December with another high stakes competition looming in the CONCACAF Champions League round of 16. Sporting will play host to Liga MX side Cruz Azul on March 12 in the first leg at Sporting Park.
The day will also feature a showdown between two of MLS’ new-look sides when Toronto FC takes on the Columbus Crew at 1 pm (live at MLSsoccer.com). Other games in the tournament include USL PRO’s Orlando City vs. Philadelphia Union (6 pm) and the Montreal Impact vs. Brazilian side Fluminese FC in the nightcap at 8 pm (live at MLSsoccer.com).
The Desert Diamond Cup in Tucson, Ariz., also gets started with three games Wednesday. Chivas USA, looking to continue their positive start this preseason thanks to a handful of goals from new striker Adolfo “Bofo” Bautista, takes on tournament host and Premier Development League side FC Tucson in the tournament opener at 4 pm. The Rojiblancos are fresh off a 2-1 win over the Colorado Rapids on Sunday, which included the former Mexican international star’s second set-piece goal of the preseason.
Chivas’ game will be followed by Colorado Rapids vs. Chicago Fire (6:30 pm, live at Chicago-Fire.com) and Real Salt Lake vs. New England Revolution (9 pm).
The four-team Carolina Challenge Cup in Charleston, S.C., gets started Saturday with the Houston Dynamo taking on D.C. United and USL PRO side Charleston Battery facing the Seattle Sounders. The Portland Timbers’ four-team Rose City Invitational kicks off at Providence Park on Sunday, with Jamaican side Portmore United playing the Vancouver Whitecaps and then the Timbers facing off against the San Jose Earthquakes.
What do you think of the slate of preseason tournament games?