Major League Soccer preseason kicks off in Tucson on March 16
Possible 2nd chance for Phoenix MLS bid; Washington State cancels match in Tucson
Major League Soccer preseason, delayed by a labor dispute, will begin in Tucson on March 16, according to a release from FC Tucson. Matches this year will include a series of scrimmages as well as this year’s edition of the Visit Tucson Sun Cup tournament.
The preseason scrimmages will include five Major League Soccer clubs: Colorado Rapids, LA Galaxy, Portland Timbers, Real Salt Lake, and Sporting Kansas City, in addition to USL Championship sides El Paso Locomotive FC, LA Galaxy II, New Mexico United and Phoenix Rising FC. The 2021 Visit Tucson Sun Cup will consist of Colorado Rapids, LA Galaxy, Real Salt Lake, Sporting Kansas City and Phoenix Rising FC.
This will be the 11th consecutive season that FC Tucson has hosted teams for MLS preseason. The first time came in 2011 when FC Tucson played host to the New York Red Bulls, Sporting Kansas City and Arizona Sahuaros (now known as Sporting AZ).
Trouble in Sacramento may be good for Rising
Some news out of Sacramento may have an affect on the future of Phoenix Rising FC.
The team currently plays in the United Soccer League Championship but was slated to join the top-tier Major League Soccer in 2023. However, that bid is in doubt after billionaire and Pittsburgh Penguins owner Ron Burkle announced that he was backing out of the ownership group last Friday. According to the Sacramento Bee, Burkle cited “issues with the project related to COVID-19.” That news prompted the resignation of team president Ben Gumpert.
Major League Soccer released a statement on the news and mentioned going forward with “expansion plans for our 30th team,” but left vague whether Sacramento was still in the league’s plans to be that 30th team.
This has led to speculation that MLS will be welcoming new bids to join the league. Teams in Las Vegas, San Diego and Phoenix have all been named as candidates. Phoenix Rising FC, in existence since 2014, has the longest record of running a franchise of the three.
A spokesman for Rising did not respond to a request for comment.
COVID concerns cancel Cougars swing through Tucson
Due their own COVID-19 protocols, Washington State is suspending its soccer program. This means that the Cougars’ trip to Arizona, which was to feature a match against ASU on Friday and against the Wildcats on Sunday, is off.
Arizona is still scheduled to play against Washington at 6 p.m. on Friday. That will be the Huskies' first PAC-12 match.