Sporting KC practice a drill during preseason at Arizona.
Courtesy of Sporting KC

FC Tucson Desert Cup set for February, March of 2012

FC Tucson announced on Thursday that the second Annual FC Tucson Desert Cup is a go for February and March of 2012. Four as-yet unnamed MLS teams are expected to participate in a preseason round-robin exhibition tournament at Kino Veteran Memorial Stadium in Arizona. There will be four double-headers during a two week span from February 22 through March 3.

"With our weather, world-class resorts, shopping and entertainment and, now, a dedicated training and match facility, MLS teams will want to be in Tucson to finalize their preparations for their regular season," FC Tucson managing partner Greg Foster said in a press release.

FC Tucson garnered support from both county and city politicians and business leaders in putting the event together.

“The opportunity to be involved in bringing professional soccer to Southern Arizona is an important one for our region’s economy," Pima County supervisor Richard Elias commented in the release. "The county, without a doubt, will benefit from the visitors the Desert Cup will attract and our community will be able to enjoy a signature professional sports event.”

The plan is for Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium and four baseball fields to be temporarily converted into soccer fields. They’ll then be converted back to baseball diamonds after the event comes to an end. The facility is the former home of baseball's Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago White Sox during their Spring Training trips to the desert.

The New York Red Bulls and Sporting KC (above) took part in the inaugural Desert Cup this past winter, facing lower-division competition in FC Tucson and the Arizona Sahuaros. The expansion to four MLS sides is part of FC Tucson’s plan to try to become a permanent MLS preseason venue.

However, no final decision has been made as of yet.

"MLS is examining the possibility of one or more hubs of preseason events where multiple MLS clubs could train and play exhibition games,” MLS executive vice president Nelson Rodriguez said. “Tucson, Ariz., is one of a few sites that MLS is evaluating because of its climate, facilities, and potential partners such as FC Tucson and the Kino Sports Complex.

“We are encouraged by the discussions we’ve had so far regarding Tucson as a possible preseason destination, but we will take the time to thoroughly review all options before making any decisions."

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