MLS Preseason

Let’s play three: Local soccer fans will get extra treat

2014-02-17T00:00:00Z 2014-02-17T23:41:03Z Let’s play three: Local soccer fans will get extra treatBy Dave Ord Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 17, 2014 12:00 am  • 

Going to the FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup? Your most important bring-along item might be a seat cushion or blanket.

The fourth edition of the soccer tournament, the highlight of Major League Soccer’s preseason training in Tucson, is expanding to three matches each day.

The four tripleheaders, which start Wednesday and run through March 1 at Kino Sports Complex North Stadium, will begin at 1 p.m. and end at about 8 p.m. So die-hard soccer fans will have seven hours to relish in some of the country’s best soccer.

That’s where the perfect seating accoutrement will come in handy.

And to help you get comfortable with the teams, here’s a quick primer on the clubs that will be going toe-to-toe at North Stadium over the next two weeks:

Chicago Fire

Colors: Red and blue

Last year: 14-13-7 (6th in Eastern Conference, did not make playoffs)

Best year: 1998 (won MLS Cup)

Coach: Frank Yallop (1st season)

2013 attendance average: 15,228 (ranked 15th in MLS)

Watch out for: Mike Magee. The Chicago native came back to his old haunts after being traded by the Los Angeles Galaxy in May of last season. He then proceeded to net 15 goals and four assists in 22 matches.

Chivas USA

Colors: Red, white and blue

Last year: 6-20-8 (9th in Western Conference, did not make playoffs)

Best year: 2007 (won 15 matches, reached quarterfinals)

Coach: Wilmer Cabrera (1st season)

2013 attendance average: 8,366 (19th in MLS)

Watch out for: Adolfo “Bofo” Bautista. Known for his crazy hairstyles and wearing No. 100 when he was with Chivas of Guadalajara, the 34-year-old forward has scored 11 goals for the Mexican national team.

Colorado Rapids

Colors: Burgundy and blue

Last year: 14-11-9 (5th in Western Conference, lost in first round of playoffs)

Best year: 2010 (won MLS cup)

Coach: Oscar Pareja (1st season)

2013 attendance average: 15,499 (13th in MLS)

Watch out for: Deshorn Brown. The Jamaican led all MLS rookies in goals scored last season, netting 10 goals in 24 starts. One of those tallies was the third-quickest goal in MLS history, coming 15 seconds into the Rapids’ 5-1 win over Seattle on Oct. 5.

FC Tucson

Colors: Black and red

Last year: 5-5-4 (5th in USL PDL Southwest Division, did not make playoffs)

Best year: 2012 (reached playoffs)

Coach: Rick Schantz (4th season)

2013 attendance average: 908

Watch out for: Martino Rapella. When not working at a local gelato shop, the Italian-born forward/midfielder who was plucked out of the Tucson Metro Soccer League is showing off his skills for the local USL PDL club.

New England Revolution

Colors: Red, white and blue

Last year: 14-11-9 (3rd in Eastern Conference, lost in conference semifinals)

Best year: 2005 (won 17 matches, reached MLS Cup final)

Coach: Jay Heaps (3rd season)

2013 attendance average: 14,844 (16th in MLS)

Watch out for: Lee Nguyen. Less than three years ago, he was playing in the Vietnamese league. Now the central midfielder is a star for New England. He had four goals and seven assists last season to help the Revolution make the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

Real Salt Lake

Colors: Claret red, cobalt blue and royal gold

Last year: 16-10-8 (2nd in Western Conference, lost in MLS Cup final)

Best year: 2009 (won MLS Cup)

Coach: Jeff Cassar (1st season)

2013 attendance average: 19,218 (9th in MLS)

Watch out for: Javier Morales. The Argentine had eight goals and 10 assists in helping Real Salt Lake reach the MLS Cup final in 2013. In his eighth season with RSL, the 34-year-old midfielder just seems to get better every year.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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