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MLS VP: Tucson is great, we want to be back
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Desert Diamond Cup soccer

MLS VP: Tucson is great, we want to be back

Plus: Will we see Henry and Donovan?

  • LA Galaxy midfielder David Beckham tackles the ball away from New England's Shalrie Joseph during Wednesday's match.
    Joshua Pearson/TucsonSentinel.comLA Galaxy midfielder David Beckham tackles the ball away from New England's Shalrie Joseph during Wednesday's match.

Major League Soccer Executive Vice President Nelson Rodriguez had only good things to say about Tucson following the start of the Desert Diamond Cup earlier this week.

"Kino is a fantastic facility and the weather is sensational; the hotels and facilities have all been great," he said in comments to the media.

"The weather is ideal for preseason time and the teams can acclimate themselves very easily. Secondly it’s the warm reception we have received every time we have been here. Whether I come individually or our teams have been here, they really have been welcomed by the community and that’s important when making a team feel comfortable as it prepares for the season starts," he said.

"The hotels and the restaurants in the area are world class and first class so the players enjoy being here and the coaches enjoy being here," Rodriguez said.

As talk of an expanded Desert Cup was kicking around last summer, the possibilities of Major League Soccer events coming to Tucson came up. Rodriguez gave some positive signs that the league may look to our community for more than just a February stop-off.

"We have had other league personnel come here earlier this year and investigate the grounds. We would consider bringing the [player] combine here and we would also consider coming back here at some other point in the year," he said.

"We have clubs that are always looking for extra games, and on FIFA dates is when our season goes dark for the most part and might be an opportunity for a MLS team, perhaps even to play a Mexican club team. We would like to expand the relationship beyond this time period and were exploring opportunities to do so," Rodriguez said.

He noted that talk of an MLS team in Tucson is "premature" but he pointed to a recent example of expansion into a surprising market.

"Salt Lake City was not number one on our radar and yet they are fast becoming one of our flagship clubs," he said. "They built a world class stadium, have a championship team, and were just 1 goal away from advancing to the Club World Championship. Those dreams are not fairly tales — with hard work, good plan, and local ownership they can come true and I would never discount anyone that has the belief and world power to make this happen."

Bulls and Pumas

The New York Red Bulls fielded a reserve squad against Real Salt Lake on Wednesday night so they could save their stars for an exhibition match against Pumas de UNAM on Thursday night. The Red Bulls' two most recognizable stars, Thierry Henry and Rafael Márquez, played all 90 minutes in the nil-nil draw against the Mexican team.

Will Tucsonans get to see either player?

Red Bulls coach Hans Backe is reluctant to play the two of them again so soon after they played a full 90, it would be a "killer" he said. "But Thierry will definitely be here for the Wednesday game."

Wednesday's game will be against the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Márquez will not be with the team on Wednesday; the Mexican national team is scheduled to take on Colombia that day. Backe said that Mexico's World Cup captain will be returning to the team in time for the final scheduled game next Saturday.

Sunshine Superman

Fans of both the Los Angeles Galaxy and the U.S. national team noticed one of their favorite players was missing on Wednesday night: Landon Donovan.

According to the team, Donovan was left off the roster because of the flu. Will he be playing Saturday night?

"We don't know yet, we'll see how he's feeling," said Galaxy coach Bruce Arena to members of the press on Friday.

Fans might just have to settle for David Beckham.

Revs and Realistas

New England defenders Kevin Alston and A. J. Soares were not in action for the team on Wednesday, and are being held back for Saturday's contest for what the team is calling "precautionary reasons." Both are healthy enough to be training with the team.

Another player who did not play on Wednesday, midfielder Ryan Guy, is expected to play on Saturday.

Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando will be playing for the US national team in their match against Italy on Wednesday. He is expected to start tonight's game against Los Angeles and the team reports that he will be available for next Saturday's match.

FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup

The event will features four double-header matches Wednesday and Saturday nights from through March 3. The round-robin tournament will crown a champion on the final evening through a point-accumulation system. All teams will make their final preparations for the 2012 MLS regular season by training on the world-class fields and facilities of the Kino Sports Complex.

Games are also available by live streaming on MLSsoccer.com and broadcast locally in Spanish on 990 AM.

  • Wednesday
  • New England Revolution 3 - L.A. Galaxy 2
  • New York Red Bulls 0 - Real Salt Lake 1
  • Saturday
  • 6 p.m. L.A. Galaxy vs. Real Salt Lake
  • 8 p.m. New York Red Bulls vs. New England Revolution
  • Wednesday, Feb. 29
  • 6 p.m. Real Salt Lake vs. New England Revolution
  • 8 p.m. L.A. Galaxy vs. New York Red Bulls
  • Saturday, March 3
  • 6 p.m. MLS 3rd place vs. MLS 4th place
  • 8 p.m. MLS 1st place vs. MLS 2nd place

Standings

TeamPtsGD
New England Revolution3+1
Real Salt Lake3+1
New York Red Bulls(0)-1
Los Angeles Galaxy(0)-1

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