Tucson Match Preview 150217

FC Tucson to provide the first test for Rave Green at Desert Diamond Cup

Sounders FC performed quite well in friendlies during its last two preseason trips to Arizona. Two years ago the Rave Green were crowned champions of the Desert Diamond Cup, and in 2014 they followed it up by going 3-0-1 in preseason matches played in the Grand Canyon State.

The club is back for a third straight year, and it opens the 2015 edition of the Desert Diamond Cup against host side FC Tucson on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. PST.

“I think we’re trying to get that cohesiveness, that understanding with each other again,” centerback Chad Marshall said of his team’s objective for the match. “Obviously we’ve got some new players in, so it’s just about gelling, getting fit and having that understanding of each other before we get to March 8.”

The last time Sounders FC was in Arizona, all four of its friendlies were with MLS teams. This year the club will face at least two MLS foes – Sporting Kansas City and the New England Revolution – but first comes a clash with Premier Development League side FC Tucson.

Contrary to the first two friendlies of this preseason, Seattle’s starters will play into the second half and up to 75 minutes on Wednesday, per Head Coach Sigi Schmid.

“We’re at the point of the preseason where we’re really starting to ramp up our game fitness,” veteran defender Zach Scott said. “We’re going to get some great chances to play some lower division clubs and also some MLS clubs.

“I think the mentality and being comfortable with players is there, and now it’s just a matter of everybody getting sharp.”

Just 16 hours after the start of Wednesday’s match, the Sounders will face NASL side Minnesota United FC in a friendly that is separate from the Desert Diamond Cup. That match will provide a chance for some reserves to play extended time on the pitch in front of the technical staff.

A few of those reserves, after training with the First Team for the last three weeks, did not make the trip to Tucson. That group includes rookie forward Andy Craven and second-year midfielder Aaron Long. They are training with S2 at Starfire Sports this week.

“We’ve identified some guys that maybe aren’t quite at our level yet, but we think they’re obviously players with talent and ability,” Schmid said. “So we want them to be in the S2 situation.”

SoundersFC.com will have a live stream of every Sounders FC match in the Desert Diamond Cup.