Not Plain White T's
There were plenty of jerseys sporting both the No. 23 and name of David Beckham intermingled among the Kino Stadium fans.
But three Tucson teens showed their support in more novel ways. Delaney Hughes, 16, had a white T-shirt on that read, "What's soccer? We're only here for Beckham." Across the front of her shirt, Breea Pepiot, 16, wrote in bright colors, "I have 23 reasons why I love David Beckham." Nicole Cerrone, 17, chose to show her support with the word "Beckha…mmm" on the back.
"The H&M commercials during the Super Bowl moved him to the top of my list of cutest boys," said Hughes, who played soccer at Tanque Verde High School. "We had our binoculars out to see him," Cerrone said. They say they'll be back for more matches, and "we're going to try to meet him. We can handle watching the soccer, unlike other sports," Hughes said.
They'll need the wings
It's a busy time in Arizona for the New York Red Bulls. In addition to the four Desert Diamond Cup matches in Tucson, they are playing in Phoenix tonight. That's five matches in 10 days. Hope they have some Red Bulls to drink.
They'll face Pumas of Mexico at Chase Field in the second Reto del Sol. In last year's Reto, the Red Bulls and Atlas of Mexico drew 1-1 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.
New York started only three or four of its regulars in Wednesday's lineup. Thierry Henry and Rafa Marquez were not at the game.
They should sit in Section J
Kevin and Patty Heal and their miniteam of sons from Sahuarita were the first ones through the gate Wednesday.
The Heal boys - Jordan, 17; Josh, 17; Jacob, 12; Jeremiah, 10; and James, 10 - got their mom and dad interested in the sport. All five play soccer, three want to play professionally some day.
All five have English soccer clubs they support (two for Manchester United and one each for Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea, if you want to keep track).
All five were aching for the chance to be near the players and watch some top-level soccer from so close.
"We've been fans since we've been 5 or 6 years old. We're very excited to be here," said Jacob as they waited to enter the VIP area. "I want to see David Beckham and Landon Donovan." They're only going to be coming to the one doubleheader, but they have a good excuse: "They're all playing in tournaments for the other games," Patty said.
By the numbers
Number of MLS spring training broadcasts that will be on mlssoccer.com this year, including all eight games in Tucson.
Wrapped up in enthusiasm
By 3 p.m., three hours before the first match, there was already a group decked out in scarves and enjoying beverages underneath a blue tent in the Kino Stadium parking lot.
The Cactus Pricks, a supporters group for FC Tucson, was ready to enjoy the opening night of the Desert Diamond Cup.
"It's an excellent showcase event with world-class players, and it's bringing tourism into the city," said president Keaton Koch, while the Red Hot Chili Peppers blared from the group's stereo.
"We're going to be out here for every game." During the cup, the group will be selling memberships and scarves.
As for which player he most wants to see, Koch said Freddy Adu. Just one problem, Adu isn't here. He plays for Philadelphia Union, which is not one of the MLS teams in Tucson this year. Koch says he'll settle for Landon Donovan.
He said it
"I like Tucson. The fields are nice and soft. Climate's great. Anything to get out of Boston." - New England midfielder Shalrie Joseph, whose team came from rainy weather in the 30s in Boston