2012 FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup Kick Off
Wednesday, 25 January 2012 17:05
The second annual FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup is about to kick off the 2012 tournament. Hosted by FC Tucson, four Major League Soccer (MLS) teams will compete in the round-robin preseason tournament.
FC Tucson, is a semi-pro soccer team founded in 2010. FC Tucson plays in the Premier Developmental League of the United Soccer League. Players in this league are mostly college-age men from the Southwest who participate in the league during summer months to develop skills and become better players.
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. The 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. Different double-header matches will be played on Wednesday and Saturday nights. The tournament is formatted in a point system that awards 3 points for a win, one point for a tie and no points for a loss. The two teams that have earned the most points throughout tournament play will face-off in the championship game on March 3 at 8 p.m. The two teams with the fewest points will play for third place in a consolation game at 6 p.m. before the championship.
The defending MLS champion L.A Galaxy will participate in this years Desert Diamond Cup. The reigning champs kept busy this off-season acquiring a total of 14 new players who were out training Monday at The Home Depot Center, where the Galaxy play their home games. Two main players that helped the Galaxy win the 2011 MLS Championship, midfielder Landon Donovan, who is also a beloved player for the Men's U.S Soccer Team, and forward Robbie Keane are on two-month loans, meaning they will be taking two months to play overseas in Europe. Donovan will be playing for Everton FC, in the English Premier League also called Barclays Premier League. Keane will be playing Aston Villa another English Premier League football club. However, both players are expected to be back in time to play with the Galaxy during both the Desert Diamond Cup as coaches are looking to make sure they have at least a few games with their normal full roster practicing and playing together as the MLS season quickly approaches.
But among the Galaxy's biggest off-season moves was the re-signing of internationally known soccer star David Beckham. Beckham and the Galaxy agreed to a two-year contract worth $15 million according to the L.A Times. A press conference was held to announce to news officially late last week.
This means the 36-year-old Beckham will participate in the 2012 Desert Diamond Cup Tournament, which is good news for the tournament's organizers as it will bring in more press and help boost ticket sales. In other news, the Galaxy have signed Jovan Kirovski to be their new assistant coach. Kirvoski used to play left striker for the Galaxy's attacking forwards.
The New England Revolution will participate in this tournament for the first time. With little news besides their first 11 on 11 intra-team scrimmage Tuesday night, they come into the tournament with high hopes for a competitive showing. According to their coach Jay Heaps, the scrimmage was a good warm up for the team. He says it helped him get a good look at who will be his best impact players as they gear up for the premiere preseason tournament.
Real Salt Lake is another team that will be participating in the tournament for the first time. They will be competing in The Desert Diamond Cup for the first time. Some news for Real Salt Lake is the uncertain role that Martín Vásquez will have with the club. He is likely to be an important part of The U.S Men's National Soccer Team's revamped coaching staff, but says his main focus is on Real Salt Lake and their preparation for the upcoming season.
The New York Red Bulls will return to the Desert Diamond Cup for the second year in a row, looking for redemption as they lost in the Championship game to Sporting Kansas City last year. The Kansas City club is an MLS team that competed in the tournament last year but will not be back this year. This off-season the Red Bulls decided to sign goal keeper Jeremy Vuolo after playing a season for AC Oulu, a Finnish soccer club. Scouts of the Red Bulls were impressed with Vuolo's play at Syracuse University, and during the 24 games he played for AC Oulu where he had 11 clean sheets (shuts outs). International soccer star Thierry Henry will return to the Red Bulls this season. Henry, was also on a loan to Arsenal FC but is expected to be back in time to compete in the tournament this year. Henry was a standout in the English Premier League for years as a forward and for Arsenal FC. Henry was also a National household name in France, as a forward and Captain of the Men's French National Team.
The presence of internationally known soccer stars, like Beckham and Henry, would be good news for tournament organizers as it would surely bring more attention, press and promotion to the cup. This is vitally important as the front office of FC Tucson hopes to make the Desert Diamond Cup a prestigious tournament that professional players take seriously, want to compete in and want to win. 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 are hoping to make Tucson a major preseason training location for MLS teams. Keeney and others in the FC Tucson organization are also hoping to attract potential MLS fans from south of the border by traveling to the city of Hermosillo, the capital of Sonora, and promoting the Desert Diamond Cup there. The cup's organizers will also be teaming up with ASUA and Hector Araujo the diversity director of ASUA, to put on a promotional event that will include live street games at the University of Arizona.
The Red Bulls will play in the official MLS season opener on March 11. Their season opener against FC Dallas will be the first game hosted on NBC's Sports Network since the league and the network began their partnership.
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