The second annual FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup is gearing up to kick off in a few weeks. The event is a round-robin preseason tournament and is considered the premiere preseason event for MLS teams as they get into serious preparation mode for the start of regular season play. Four Major League Soccer (MLS) teams will compete in the tournament this year, which is two more than last year.
FC Tucson, who is hosting the tournament, are a semi-pro soccer team founded in 2010. FC Tucson plays in the Premiere Developmental League of the United Soccer League. Players in this league are mostly college-age kids from the Southwest who participate in the league during the summer months to develop skills and become better players.
The tournament games will be played at Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium. The stadium, which is usually used as a baseball field, will be transformed into a pristine soccer pitch for the sake of the tournament. The first set of double-header matches are scheduled to kick-off Wednesday Feb. 22. The New England Revolution will play the L.A Galaxy at 6 p.m.and The New York Red Bulls will face-off against Real Salt Lake at 8 p.m. Different double-header match ups are scheduled to be played on Wednesday and Saturday nights at 6 and 8 p.m. through March 3. The two teams that have earned the most points in the tournament, based on a point system that is yet to be determined by organizers, will face each other in the championship game on March 3 at 8 p.m. The two teams with the least points will play for third place in a consolation game at 6 p.m. before the championship.
Some exciting news for the tournament will be the participation of the reigning MLS champion L.A Galaxy, who, late this past week, re-signed internationally known midfielder David Beckham. Beckham and the Galaxy agreed to a two-year contract worth $15 million according to the L.A Times. The Galaxy held a press conference last Friday with Beckham to officially announce the news. This means the 37-year-old celebrity soccer star will play in the Desert Diamond Cup. This is good news for the Cup’s organizers as it is sure to help bring more attention, press and help boost ticket sales. Chris Keeney, the Chief Business Officer, partner and co-owner of the FC Tucson club says the tournament and some of its promotional events are part of an effort to make Tucson a central focal point and a western hub for preseason MLS soccer. Keeney and others involved with FC Tucson’s planning of the tournament are hoping to make Tucson into a major preseason training location for MLS teams. Members of the FC Tucson organization, like Keeney, are also hoping to attract new potential MLS fans from south of the border. By traveling to the city of Hermosillo, the capital city of Sonora, Cup organizers have done their best to promote the Desert Diamond Cup and expand the fan base of MLS soccer and the tournament.
The other clubs playing in the tournament include The New England Revolution, Real Salt Lake and The New York Red Bulls. The Red Bulls will play in the official MLS season opener on March 11 against FC Dallas. This match will be the first to be aired on NBC’s Sports Network since the league and the network began their partnership.