The bodies aren’t yet cold on the 2016 season and we are already moving on to 2017. The offseason is weirdly my favorite part of the year. There are a couple reasons for this. First, once the MLS Cup has been played everyone reverts back to being undefeated. Second, Sporting Kansas City play their preseason games in Tucson, Arizona (and I live near Phoenix, Arizona).
So basically, it’s out of being completely selfish that I love the offseason. But who doesn’t love the optimism that the offseason brings? Well good news for me (and probably at least a couple other SKC fans), as Sporting KC are returning to Arizona for the 2017 Desert Diamond Cup.
As in recent years, preseason in Tucson is divided into two different segments. The first are the Desert Friendlies which run from Friday, January 27, 2017 through Tuesday, February 7, 2017. The second segment is the actual Desert Diamond Cup which runs from Wednesday, February 15, 2017 through Saturday, February 25, 2017. My birthday also falls during this period, so feel free to come out and see me and give me a gift.
Sporting KC will be involved in both the Desert Friendlies and Desert Diamond Cup. The Desert Friendlies will have at least seven MLS clubs, including: Seattle Sounders FC, Portland Timbers, Sporting Kansas City, San Jose Earthquakes, New England Revolution, Real Salt Lake and a yet to be named team. Usually, FC Tucson, the club that hosts the tournament, is involved in some way. They are a Premier Development League (PDL) team, which is the unofficial fourth tier of US Soccer’s Pyramid.
Two years ago the Sounders were invited and brought huge crowd support. It felt like a home game as there was more lime green than any other color and the chanting was in full force. It will be interesting to see if Portland travels as well as Seattle.
As for the actual preseason tournament, SKC will be joined by the New England Revolution, Houston Dynamo, New York Red Bulls, Colorado Rapids, and New York City FC. NYCFC have never come to Tucson for preseason before. The Red Bulls on the other hand played in the inaugural tournament with Sporting KC back in 2011.
The tournament itself carries little weight. Sporting had qualified to play in the Championship game last year but instead declined so that they could play a team they hadn’t yet faced. Ironically, based on record, Sporting KC should have met the Swope Park Rangers in the final but their USL reserve side was prohibited from playing in the title game despite having the superior record.
If you are interested in joining me on my journey to Tucson (that isn’t nearly as long as yours if likely to be) tickets are already available. Most of the games have not yet been announced but SKC will play RBNY in the 1st round of the DDC on February 18th. Who is making the trip? Only a few short months to decide.