The New England Revolution appear to be set to return to Tucson, Arizona for the 3rd straight preseason, with their now annual involvement in the FC Tucson Desert Diamond Cup being the focal point of the trip.
Jay Heaps and his staff have made it no mystery that they are huge fans of the facilities in Tucson and they intend to return once again, according to the Arizona Daily Star, where they will spend the latter part of February training and competing in the re-tooled Desert Diamond Cup.
This year's tournament, according to the aforementioned article, will be increased from four to six teams. This year's participants, aside from New England, are: Chivas USA, the Chicago Fire, Real Salt Lake, the Colorado Rapids, and hosts FC Tucson. The Star also mentions that FC Tucson will drop out of the final match-day to make room for an undisclosed first-division Mexican side, who will presumably play the tournament's first place team.
Local Tucson, AZ supporter's group, The Cactus Pricks, confirmed the Desert Diamond Cup schedule on their website yesterday. The schedule appears to be as follows:
Chivas USA vs. FC Tucson, 1:00 PM, at Kino North Stadium.
Colorado Rapids vs. Chicago Fire, 3:30 PM, at Kino North Stadium.
Real Salt Lake vs. New England Revolution, 6:00 PM, at Kino North Stadium.
FC Tucson vs. Colorado Rapids, 1:00 PM, at Kino North Stadium.
Chicago Fire vs. Real Salt Lake, 3:30 PM, at Kino North Stadium.
New England Revolution vs. Chivas USA, 6:00 PM, at Kino North Stadium.
Chivas USA vs. Chicago Fire, 1:00 PM, at Kino North Stadium.
New England Revolution vs. Colorado Rapids, 3:30 PM, at Kino North Stadium.
Real Salt Lake vs. FC Tucson, 6:00 PM, at Kino North Stadium.
5th Place vs. 6th Place, 2:30 PM, at Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium.
3rd Place vs. 4th Place, 5:00 PM, at Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium.
1st Place vs. 2nd Place, 7:30 PM, at Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium.
The final match-day might be altered differently, per the information in the Arizona Daily Star, with 1st Place playing the Mexican club and then the rest shaking out accordingly depending on where FC Tucson ends up in the standings by March 1st.
Although we've yet to hear official word from Revolution HQ about this trip, if the information above is indeed true then the Revs look set to face-off against strictly Western Conference competition in Arizona this winter.
But New England may get a crack at fellow Eastern Conference opponents a few weeks prior if the rumors are true of an earlier winter trip down to Florida to the prestigious IMG Academy in Bradenton. The Bradenton Herald reported last month that New England along with the Chicago Fire, the Columbus Crew, D.C. United, and the New York Red Bulls will be at the Academy training from January 26th to February 14th, and the article suggests that they will also play each other in a series of friendlies that may or may not be streamed online and/or televised. Swedish side Malmo FF are set to also make an appearance, according to the Herald article.
Assuming all of the above is true, Revs fans will have plenty of preseason action to look forward to. The Bent Musket will of course keep you up to date on all developments regarding preseason and will be covering the Desert Diamond Cup (and the IMG Academy games as well) live as we have in the past.
Editor's Note: Shortly after posting this, the Revolution sent out a press release confirming the above information regarding the Desert Diamond Cup. No confirmation about the IMG Academy trip has been released yet, however.