On Wednesday, the Sounders FC will take part in the third annual Desert Diamond Cup at Kino Sports Complex in Tucson and while the preseason soccer tournament may be in just its third year, Kino Sports Complex has a solid recent history for preseason tours.
In 1997, the complex was built to host Spring Training baseball for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago White Sox. The main stadium, Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium, also was the home stadium for the Tucson Sidewinders of the Pacific Coast League (AAA) from 1998-2008 and now serves as the home of the Tucson Padres when the Portland Beavers were sold in 2010 and relocated to Arizona.
Additionally, the grounds have hosted University of Arizona Wildcats preseason football camp.
For the next two weeks, though, the complex will be overrun with MLS fever as the Sounders FC, Real Salt Lake, New York Red Bulls and New England Revolution prepare for the 2013 MLS season with the Desert Diamond Cup.
The tournament features a round-robin series of games on Wednesday, Saturday and the following Wednesday. The top two teams will then meet in the championship game on Saturday, February 23, with the bottom two meeting in the third place game as well.
This is the second year that the tournament holds the current format, with the LA Galaxy winning the championship last year, winning on penalties over the Revolution. In 2011, the tournament also featured FC Tucson and Arizona Sahuaros and was just a two-day event, won by Sporting Kansas City.
The Sounders are the only team in the 2013 edition of the tournament who had not previously played in the Desert Diamond Cup. The Red Bulls have played in it each year.
Over their time in Tucson, the Sounders will also meet Mexican second division side Veracruz in a friendly match on Friday, February 22, in a match to help the Sounders prepare for their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal meeting with Tigres. The first leg of the aggregate goal series with Tigres will be in Monterrey, Mexico, on March 6, with the return leg on March 12 at CenturyLink Field.
“This is good preparation for our match against Tigres,” said Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid. “It’s important to play another team from Mexico and we are very thankful that Veracruz is able to do so. It’s a good opportunity for our team to play against that style of play because it is different than what we face in MLS.”
Each Sounders match of the Desert Diamond Cup will be featured in a live webcast on SoundersFC.com. If they reach the championship match, that match will be on NBC Sports.