By JOSE M. ROMERO
PHOENIX — Four MLS teams have agreed to take part in the Desert Diamond Cup, a round-robin tournament to be held at Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium in Tucson, Ariz., Feb. 22-March 3.
The defending MLS Cup champions Los Angeles Galaxy, the New York Red Bulls, the New England Revolution and Real Salt Lake are the scheduled participants in a series of matches that span a week and a half.
FC Tucson, a soccer club and organization established last year that brought MLS teams to the southern Arizona city last winter, made the announcement about the tournament Thursday. There will be four sets of doubleheaders with each team playing another on two Wednesdays and a Saturday (Feb. 22, 25 and 29), with the third-place game and championship on Saturday, March 3. All matches will be played at 6 and 8 p.m. local (Mountain Standard) time.
The tournament champion will be determined via point accumulation.
With Major League Baseball spring training gone from Tucson since 2010, FC Tucson and the city hope to fill the void by becoming a destination for MLS and other soccer teams' preseason training. The Kino Sports Complex was once a spring training site.
Tucson hosted a preseason match between RBNY and FC Tucson this past March.
"This tournament will be a celebration for soccer fans throughout the great state of Arizona, Northern Mexico and all across the United States," FC Tucson managing partner Chris Keeney said in a statement from the club.
Three of the four teams, the exception being the Revs, trained in Arizona for a time last winter. Real Salt Lake GM Garth Lagerwey is encouraging RSL fans to make the trip to watch the team.