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Posted Dec 7, 2011, 10:05 am
Thursday morning, FC Tucson will announce a title sponsor and four Major League Soccer teams that will participate in next year's Desert Cup.
A preliminary schedule for the tournament was announced by FC Tucson officials and MLS Executive Vice-President Nelson Rodriguez at a press conference on Sept. 29. Each team will play four games between Feb. 22 and March 3 at Kino Stadium.
Organizers are saving the announcement of a title sponsor for the press conference, but other sponsors include local law firm Karp & Weiss and Chapman Automotive.
The names of the teams scheduled for the tournament also are being held close to the vest. One tournament organizer, however, had one interesting bit of news: Even though four MLS teams are slated for participation in the tournament, two more will be coming to Tucson during their six-week pre-season training period.
The press conference is scheduled for 11 a.m. at the Desert Diamond Casino and will include local corporate and community leaders.
The 2011 Desert Cup was the first such event that Tucson hosted. It featured two MLS teams along with FC Tucson and the Arizona Sahuaros. The two-night tournament ended in a game between Sporting Kansas City and New York Red Bulls before a capacity crowd of 10,097 fans at Hi Corbett Field.
Teams still under wraps
So, who are these teams that are coming?
With no one from FC Tucson talking, fans are left with a process of elimination.
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Those looking for a replay of last year's match will be disappointed, as Kansas City has already announced they will be playing in the Disney Pro Soccer Classic in Florida. The same for those hoping for a replay of MLS Cup, since the Houston Dynamo also will be playing there.
Of course, both of those teams still could make an appearance as part of pre-season training.
All told, six MLS teams will be participating in that tournament, which leaves 13 MLS teams.
Local MLS fans are playing a bit of a parlor game trying to deduce who the teams are, but most are a bit less than objective.
Tommy Amparano is the local head of the American Outlaws, a national supporters group for the U.S. National team. He is also a Los Angeles Galaxy fan. Guess what team he thinks should come?
"I want the Galaxy, of course," he said.
He also would like a second team, the Galaxy's in-town rival, CD Chivas USA.
"An L.A. derby. That would be ideal," he said.
The Galaxy are the current holders of the MLS Cup, and include Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane. David Beckham, however, likely will not be with the squad should they participate. His agents are negotiating a move to French club Paris Saint-Germain FC.
Which ever teams come, there is one long-time MLS journeyman who will not make it to the Old Pueblo: Jamaican National team star Andy Williams. After 14 seasons in MLS, the two-time Carribean Cup winner announced his retirement this week.
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Williams first joined the Columbus Crew in 1998, where he made 41 appearances in two seasons for the team. He bounced around the league for several seasons, with stops in Miami, New England, New York and Chicago before settling in for six seasons with Real Salt Lake. His time with RSL included an MLS Cup victory over Los Angeles and a CONCACAF Champions League final.
He joined RSL in their inaugural season and was only member of that 2005 team still on the roster.