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Kick Off: MLS clubs vie for first trophy of year in AZ

Kick Off: MLS clubs vie for first trophy of year in Ariz.

It’s the first trophy up for grabs this calendar year.

They call it the Desert Diamond Cup and, although the competition qualifies as a preseason tournament, it’s big enough that MLSsoccer.com will host live streams of all the matches.

The action kicks off with the MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy facing the New England Revolution tonight (8 pm ET) followed by the night cap when the New York Red Bulls battle Real Salt Lake from Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium in Tucson, Ariz. (10 pm ET).

And if you don’t support those four clubs, then you may want to watch this brand new MLS video by NBC Sports, which will make you realize how close the season really is. (VIDEO)

You’ll likely be able to catch a match or two featuring your club with the 19 preseason matches that will be streamed on MLSsoccer.com between today and the start of the MLS regular season. Here’s the full rundown.

In the meantime, Tiger Woods has been upstaged in Tucson with the arrival of David Beckham & Co. The English midfielder wasn’t available to the media yesterday, but the cameras caught a back-and-forth between a Tucson police officer and the LA star as they left the airport. (VIDEO)

Which of the four international trialists that the New England Revolution have in Arizona will do enough to make the cut? That’s one of the themes of the Revs’ Diamond Desert Cup run, which starts against LA.

The Seattle Sounders will warm up for their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal first leg against Santos Laguna by facing another Mexican side, Atlante, in Cancun, Mexico (7 pm ET). They’re calling it a “good, little dry run for going into Santos.”

Chivas USA will also be taking on Mexican opposition as Club Tijuana meet the Goats in a border battle in San Diego. But who’s really the away team? “We consider San Diego our territory,” says one Tijuana executive.

Intriguing on two fronts is the matchup between FC Dallas and the US Olympic Team led by Caleb Porter from Frisco, Texas (11 am ET). The game is expected to see US national team players Zach Loyd and Brek Shea engage in a one-on-one battle: “It’ll be just like training all over again.”

It’s a big day for the San Jose Earthquakes, who will find out tonight if the San Jose Planning Commission has green-lighted their stadium planning permit. It would be a major achievement, according to Bay Area columnist Ann Killion.

Rarely do you see players or coaches establish a goalscoring target for a striker ahead of a season. It’s an even less common occurrence to see an owner do it. But the Portland Timbers’ Merritt Paulson didn’t shy away and said he expects Kris Boyd to score at least 10 goals. That’s just during the regular season.

Another strong statement was made by D.C. United president Kevin Payne, who called Dwayne De Rosario “the most accomplished professional athlete in Washington, D.C. — actually by a pretty considerable margin.”

New San Jose Earthquakes striker Sercan Güvenisik also has a point to prove. Although he was born in Germany and has dual Turkish-German nationality, there’s little doubt at what citizenship he relates to most. “I want to show America what kind of people we are and I want to show them a good Turkish soccer player.”

Of the five players signed by the Philadelphia Union yesterday, Krystian Witkowski may be the most emotional about it. His father and brother played professionally in Poland and Union manager Peter Nowak is a legend in their household: “It’s amazing to play for one of the legends in Poland’s history that you grew up watching,” Witkowski said.

While the Union continue to stick with youth, the Montreal Impact signed a soon-to-be 39-year-old player to an MLS contract. He was on the doorstep of retirement but it turns out he’s shown to be in better physical shape than some of the Impact newcomers.

Sporting Kansas City also signed a new player, inking draft pick Cyprian Hedrick, who is incredulous to say the least: “I was shocked, but definitely excited as well,” he said.

In case you didn’t notice, the 2012 MLS roster rules have a few minor tweaks which includes a shift in the summer international transfer window. Last year it ran until August 14. This year it closes on July 27.

Do the Houston Dynamo have the next Brad Davis right under their noses? It sounds like it based on how Brian Ching talks about one of their second-year players: “Technically, he's kind of up there with Brad. … If he keeps developing on those physical aspects, he could be in the starting lineup someday."

Lastly, many are still holding out hope that former NBA star Allen Iverson makes the Rochester Lancers' starting lineup. But even if he says “yes” to the indoor club’s advances, he might not even be allowed to play. Find out why here.

MLSsoccer.com Must-Reads:

Take in the latest promo by NBC Sports for their first-ever MLS telecast on March 11

MLS Commissioner Don Garber to hold exploratory meetings with expansion candidate Orlando

Thierry Henry focused on NYRB, refuses to talk about Arsenal future

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